Defense

Don’t Worry, The Guys Guarding America’s Nukes Aren’t Dropping Acid Anymore

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Thomas Phippen Associate Editor
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More than a dozen military guards at America’s most powerful nuclear arsenal have been disciplined for regularly dropping acid, snorting cocaine and engaging in other prohibited activities while stationed on base.

Documents obtained by the Associated Press reveal that the military busted a drug ring at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming that distributed and used LSD, cocaine and other drugs when not on-duty for months before getting caught.

“Although this sounds like something from a movie, it isn’t,” Capt. Charles Grimsley, the lead prosecutor for one of the courts martial, told the AP.

The drug-taking started around 2015, and lasted until someone posted an incriminating picture on Snapchat in March 2016. LSD use in the military is so rare that in 2006 the Pentagon stopped screening for the drug in routine tests. F.E. Warren AFB maintains large stockpiles of Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles, a large part of the U.S. nuclear triad.

Airman 1st Class Nickolos A. Harris, the ringleader for the acid-droppers, admitted in court that he took LSD at least eight times between the spring of 2015 and early 2016. “I absolutely just loved altering my mind,” Harris told the judge.

Others who participated did not always have good trips. “I felt paranoia, panic” in the hours after dropping acid, Airman 1st Class Tommy N. Ashworth said during his court-martial appearance. He used LSD three times, all when he was off duty. During his first time in the summer of 2015, he was shaken. “I didn’t know if I was going to die that night or not,” he said. (RELATED: Little Rock Air Force Base Gunman Thought The Military Was Spying On Him Through His Chandelier)

The airmen taking the LSD would not have been able to respond to an emergency on the base, Airman Basic Kyle S. Morrison, another of the men prosecuted, told the court-martial.

He acknowledged in testimony that he had taken acid in high school, which would have disqualified him from the Air Force if his recruiter hadn’t told him to lie about his drug use.

One piece of evidence is a video that shows Harris and a group of airmen taking acid in a Cheyenne, Wyo. apartment. Harris had a rule for the LSD ring: “No social media at all.” Another guideline was “No bad trips. Everybody’s happy right now. Let’s keep it that way.”

Whether anyone had a bad trip that night is unclear, but eventually someone did post a Snapchat video of himself smoking marijuana, which got investigators sniffing around.

As the authorities started finding more and more evidence, one of the members of the ring got so scared he deserted his post and fled to Mexico. Airman 1st Class Devin R. Hagarty confessed to getting scared, snagging cash and texting his mother that he loved her before deserting to Mexico. “I started panicking,” he told a military judge after turning himself in for desertion.

Harris admitted to using LSD, cocaine, ecstacy and marijuana, and was sentenced to three months “hard labor without confinement”and “confinement for one year” according to a December 2016 summary of Air Force courts martial.

A total of 14 airmen disciplined, six of whom were convicted in courts-martial for using or distributing LSD. Two other airmen were acquitted, and three suspects weren’t charged.

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