An Orangevale man was arrested Friday on multiple charges involving the use and possession of explosive devices in several incidents spanning Sacramento and El Dorado Counties.
According to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department, the arrest came after what was described as, “an exhaustive investigation,” that resulted in a joint search warrant operation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the California Highway Patrol, and the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office.
The search warrants and arrest were executed by Explosive Ordinance Disposal teams from the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol. According to the report, The CHP Valley Division Special Services Unit and the Federal Bureau of Investigation assisted in these search warrants as well.
The investigation was regarding a series of improvised explosive devices that had been placed and found alongside roads and highways in multiple locations of both El Dorado County and Sacramento County recently.
Benjamin Cunha, 41, was taken into custody Friday afternoon in connection with the investigation.
Cunha was reportedly arrested for 18740 PC (the unlawful explosion of a destructive device), 18715(A)(1) PC (maliciously or recklessly possessing an explosive device) and 18710(a) PC (Possession of a Destructive Device or Explosives).
According to court records, Cunha has a criminal record of arson charges. He was found guilty of starting over two dozen wildfires between 2006 and 2007 and served a five year sentence. Prior to his previous charges, he was a volunteer firefighter with the Diamond Springs Fire Protection District and was previously employed by Cal Fire.
Judge issues “no bail “hold on suspect
Cunha was booked into the El Dorado County Jail and was being held on 2.1 million dollars bail at this time. After appearing in court on Wednesday, Cunha was place on a “no bail hold.”
Court documents filed by the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office against Cunha indicated he is facing felony counts alleging use of destructive devices and explosives with intent to injure, intimidate and terrify a person and to wrongfully injure and destroy property.
Other felony charges include six counts of possession of destructive devices and explosives in a public place, one count related to possession of ingredients to make a destructive device and one count of possession of a destructive device”without first having obtained a permit from the Department of Justice to possess said destructive device.”
Due to the active investigation, the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department is not releasing any further information at this time.