Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Tampa Field Division
At The Frontline Against Violent Crime
For Immediate Release
March 31, 2009
Contact: Bill Filides
Office: (813) 202-7451
Panama City Man Sentenced for Possession of Explosives & the Attempted Taking of Marine Mammals
Panama City, Florida — United States Attorney Thomas F. Kirwin, Northern District of Florida, announced that Garry Alvin Key, also known as “Alvy Stancle Key, Jr.” 50, Panama City, Florida, was sentenced by United States District Judge Richard Smoak to a total of 24 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.
On January 14, 2009, Key entered a plea of guilty to a two-count federal indictment. The investigation leading to Key’s conviction began in May 2008, when Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officials received reports that Key was manufacturing pipe bombs and using them to kill dolphins. Based on this information, ATF began investigating Key for violating Federal explosives laws. During the course of the investigation Key confessed to ATF agents that he had illegally used explosives in an attempt to kill dolphins, a protected marine species.
Key was subsequently arrested at sea on his boat during a daring seaborne operation that included the use of assets from multiple agencies to include ATF, FWS, ICE, CBP & NOAA. This operation included the tracking of the vessel by aircraft and the boarding of Key’s vessel while on the high seas in international waters by members of the aforementioned agencies. A search of the vessel revealed evidence that was later used to convict Key on the charges of Illegal Possession of Explosives by a Convicted Felon and The Taking or Attempted Taking of Dolphins. ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Scott McCampbell said of the operation,
ATF is forever vigilant in the protection of our natural resources. ATF will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to make America safer.
Key, a prior convicted felon and captain of the “WBS” fishing vessel, admitted at the time of his guilty plea that he manufactured pipe bombs and threw them at dolphins to frighten them away from his fishing lines. Facts presented during the plea hearing revealed that authorities stopped “WBS” as it was heading out to sea for a fishing trip on August 16, 2008. Key was onboard the vessel as captain. A search of the vessel produced galvanized end caps, black powder, and fuses, which Key admitted belonged to him and which he explained he used with pipes to manufacture and detonate bombs.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Also participating in the investigation was Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Border Patrol Marine Unit. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney J. Ryan Love.
More information about ATF and its programs is available at www.atf.gov.