Environmentalist Terrorist Receives 18 Year Sentence

Mark Sands, 50, was recently sentenced to 18 years in prison for a series of arsons he carried out in Arizona. To my knowledge this is the longest prison sentence yet received by a person convicted of environmental or animal rights terrorism in the United States.

Between April 2000 and January 2001, Sands set fire to seven luxury homes in Phoenix and Scotsdale, Arizona. Sands left letters attributing the arsons to a group called the Coalition to Save the Preserve with warnings such as, “Thou shalt not desecrate God’s creation” and “You build, we burn again.”

Sands was arrested on June 14 after police observed him writing a note at a home under construction using a red marker that had been used to write the notes left at the fires.

Sands plead guilty in November 2001 to eight counts of extortion and one count of using fire to commit a federal felony. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton sentenced Sands to 18 years in jail as well as ordering him to pay $2.8 million restitution.

Hopefully other judges will follow Bolton’s lead and start making the sentences of animal rights and environmental terrorists more commensurate with the damage and fear they inflict.


Arsonist who tried to stop construction near protected area in Phoenix area gets 18 years. Foster Klug, Associated Press, February 12, 2002.

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