A man is facing federal charges after a California Highway Patrol officer found an explosive device that was inscribed with a swastika and contained 47 nails and a threatening note, according to court documents.
Pablo Giorgio Nalerio is charged with receiving or possessing a firearm that's not registered in the National Firearms and Transfer Record, according to a criminal complaint that was unsealed on Wednesday.
California Highway Patrol officers stopped Nalerio north of Fifth Street on Interstate Highway 880 in Oakland at about 3:20 a.m. on Aug. 30 because the motorcycle he was driving didn't have a rear license plate, FBI special agent Russell Nimmo wrote in a probable cause statement.
The officers conducted a registration check and discovered that the motorcycle was stolen so they placed Nalerio in handcuffs and read him his rights, according to Nimmo.
When officers asked Nalerio if he had anything illegal in his backpack he told them he had some "dumb (expletive) fireworks we're going to blow up at my friend's farm this weekend," Nimmo said.
Officers who searched Nalerio's backpack found an explosive device with nails taped to the inside, according to the statement.
When officers asked Nalerio if he had taped the nails to the device he responded, "Yeah, I know how (bad) that looks but we're gonna like blow it up inside a refrigerator or something but I understand that's really dumb," Nimmo wrote.
Officers also found a crystalline substance inside the wrapper of Nalerio's pack of cigarettes and he told them that it was crystal methamphetamine and he had been using methamphetamine regularly for a week, Nimmo said.
The CHP called in a bomb squad from the University of California at Berkeley and the squad determined that the device was a functioning explosive comprised of three 4-inch mortar rounds which appeared to be fireworks that had 47 steel nails, each 2 inches long, taped to one of the mortars, Nimmo wrote.
On the outside of the device someone had drawn a swastika and a note that said, "You dead as (expletive)," Nimmo said.
The UC Berkeley police bomb squad determined that having the nails taped to the outside of the mortar round "indicated that it (the explosive device) was not going to be used for a fireworks display but as a destructive device built with the intent to cause bodily harm," Nimmo wrote.
The probable cause declaration filed in federal court includes photographs of the explosive device, the swastika and the threatening note.