A buried cache of explosives and weapons discovered in Puyallup on Friday could be tied to a fugitive and government informant killed in Lakewood more than two years ago by bail recovery agents.
Agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives recovered four improvised explosives, ammunition and guns buried at a site in the 2000 block of Shaw Road East, said ATF spokeswoman Cheryl Bishop. Puyallup police and the Pierce County sheriff’s bomb squad also responded.
Other recovered items included detonating caps, a handgun, a shotgun, a mortar round and a 37-millimeter shell, detonated “in place” by ATF explosives experts, Bishop said. The other items were removed by agents. By 9 p.m. Friday, the scene was cleared.
Agents believe the cache was tied to a dead man. Bishop didn’t know his name. On Friday, she cited “various sources” from the investigation telling her that the man had been killed in Lakewood two years earlier by bounty hunters.
One incident fits that description: Bail recovery agents shot and killed Roberto Pupo Roque in Lakewood on May 22, 2008.
Roque, 34, was a fugitive at the time. He’d skipped out on a bail bond earlier that year, subsequently robbed the bail bond office, confessed to it, and talked his way out of jail by promising FBI agents he could lead them to a military-grade missile.
“Roque said that he could provide information on organized crime, narcotics and other illicit activity,” a 2008 Tacoma police report stated. “He said that he also had information on the whereabouts of what he described as a United States Army missile.”
Roque was an admitted drug dealer. He compared himself to Robin Hood, the medieval outlaw, according to police records.
His tip was genuine, sort of; federal agents followed it to a property in Edgewood, where they discovered a 3.5-inch bazooka rocket practice round used in military exercises.
Agents got no more information from Roque, according to records. Bail agents, trying to recover the bond tied to Roque’s name, tracked him down May 22, 2008. Roque fled. A confrontation followed in a Lakewood car lot. Roque was shot and killed. Lakewood police concluded the shooting was self- defense.
The practice rocket found two years ago was not deemed dangerous by investigators. The cache found Friday was a different story: multiple weapons, strings of ammunition and four homemade bombs.
“We believe it’s probably been buried there anywhere from a year and half to maybe a couple years,” Bishop said.
Bishop said investigators still aren’t sure where the weapons came from.
“It may have been related to some narcotics, drug-trafficking activity,” she said.
Bishop said the tip that led investigators to the scene came from an informant and did not reflect an ongoing criminal investigation. Asked whether she expected any additional investigation, she said no.
“Not at this point.”