Shenandoah County Man Pleads Guilty to Possession of Explosive Materials

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HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA – Paul Wayne Shell, a convicted felon prohibited from possessing explosive materials, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court to possessing a series of military grade explosives items, Acting United States Attorney Daniel P. Bubar and Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Washington Field Division announced today.

Shell, 51, pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of possession of explosive materials by a prohibited person. At sentencing Shell faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

According to court documents, in August 2019 the ATF and a Shenandoah County Fire Marshal received information that Shell was in possession of trip mines, dummy mines, tear gas, and other military grade items that he was willing to sell.

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On August 29, 2019, investigators with ATF setup a controlled buy from Shell in a parking lot in Quicksburg, Virginia. At that time, Shell sold investigators smoke grenades, tear gas, trip wires, red flare rockets, and hand grenade demos, for $900.


In an interview with law enforcement on September 3, 2019, Shell admitted he stole the items 10 years earlier from a farm where he worked. Shell told investigators he believed the explosives were being sold to a motorcycle gang.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Shenandoah County Fire Marshal. Assistant United States Attorney Heather L. Carlton is prosecuting the case for the United States.

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