One airman said he felt paranoia. Another marveled at the vibrant colors. Meet service members entrusted with guarding nuclear missiles that are among the most powerful in America's arsenal. Air Force records obtained by the AP show they bought, distributed, and used the hallucinogen LSD and other mind-altering illegal drugs as part of a ring that operated undetected for months on a highly secure military base in Wyoming. A slipup on social media by one airman enabled investigators to crack the drug ring at FE Warren Air Force Base in March 2016, details of which are reported here for the first time. Fourteen airmen were disciplined. Six of them were convicted in courts martial of LSD use or distribution or both. None of the airmen was accused of using drugs on duty.
The service members accused of involvement were from the 90th Missile Wing, which operates one-third of the 400 Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles that stand "on alert" 24/7 in underground silos scattered across the northern Great Plains. Documents obtained by the AP tell a sordid tale of off-duty use of LSD, cocaine, and other drugs in 2015 and 2016 by airmen who were supposed to be held to strict behavioral standards because of their role in securing the weapons. For the inexperienced members of the drug ring, Airman 1st Class Nickolos Harris, the ringleader, had set out several "rules" for LSD use. Rule No. 1: "No social media at all." But social media proved their undoing. In March 2016, one member posted a Snapchat video of himself smoking marijuana, setting Air Force investigators on their trail. The AP has much more, including testimony from the airmen at their court martial proceedings, here.
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