Jacob Ferguson was the lead arsonist in the Earth Liberation Front cases dubbed “Operation Backfire,” but the heroin addict avoided any prison time by wearing a wire and recording conversations with his former friends that could be used against them in court. By being an informant, Ferguson got a free pass on all of his crimes, and avoided decades in prison.
Ferguson was unable to stay away from heroin, though, and in April he was arrested on drug charges. Now he has been sentenced to five years in prison. He pleaded guilty to manufacturing and selling heroin (he was caught with two grams at his home), possessing cocaine, and neglecting and endangering his 4-year-old daughter.
That 5-year sentence is just for the drug charges, though. Another consequence of his guilty plea is that it means he has violated the conditions of his probation in the ELF cases. In other words, a federal prison sentence will likely be on the horizon. Ferguson– one of the most notorious government informants in recent FBI history– is going to have a difficult time in prison as a well-known “snitch.”
More broadly, Ferguson’s heroin charges should also raise some questions about the type of people the FBI is willing to rely upon in their desperation to convict “eco-terrorists.”
It should also raise some questions about sentencing disparities in the criminal justice system. Ferguson, a drug addict who neglected and endangered his child, was sentenced to 5 years in prison. Daniel McGowan — one of the people Ferguson informed on, who destroyed property in the name of defending the environment — was sentenced to 7.