A Florida man was arrested this week after authorities say he plotted to plant pipe bombs in Target stores in several states in a plan to make a quick buck.
Mark Charles Barnett, 48, of Ocala, allegedly offered an unidentified person $10,000 to put explosives disguised as food items on the shelves of Target stores in New York, Florida and Virginia.
A criminal complaint signed by U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III in the Middle District of Florida alleges Barnett also provided a confidential source with a bag of gloves, a mask, and a license plate cover to disguise his identity from law enforcement.
According to the complaint, Barnett theorized that the company’s stock value would plunge after the explosions, allowing him to cheaply acquire shares of Target stock before an eventual rebound in prices.
Barnett is accused of making the devices in his home.
But rather than place the devices on store shelves, however, the confidential source surrendered them, authorities said.
An explosives expert reportedly determined the devices were capable of causing property damage, serious injury, or death to nearby persons upon detonation.
A subsequent search of Barnett’s house by federal agents allegedly uncovered components consistent with those used to create the explosive devices.
“The swift work of ATF Special Agents, Explosives Enforcement Officers, and other specialized violent crime resources foiled this individual’s plot that could have caused great harm to the public," said Special Agent in Charge Daryl McCrary of the ATF Tampa Field Division.
He added: "Our Federal and State law enforcement partners played a vital role in supporting this investigation, and ATF will continue to work alongside the U.S. Attorney’s Office to bring this case to a successful resolution."
Barnett, a registered sex offender, is charged with possession of a firearm (destructive device) affecting commerce by a previously convicted felon.
If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.