Responsible for guarding nuclear missiles at F.E. Warren Air Force Base near Cheyenne, Wyoming, more than a dozen U.S. Air Force airmen were disciplined for using and/or distributing LSD while off-duty. Six of them were convicted in courts martial, including the leader of the drug ring who pleaded guilty to using and distributing LSD and using ecstasy, cocaine, and marijuana.
Along with Malmstrom AFB in Montana and Minot AFB in North Dakota, F.E. Warren is one of three Air Force bases responsible for maintaining 450 active intercontinental ballistic missiles. In 2013, three missileers at Malmstrom pleaded guilty to illegal use, possession, or distribution of ecstasy. While investigating the missileers’ cell phones, the Air Force stumbled upon a cheating scandal involving approximately 100 officers.
According to an inspector general investigation report, Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, former commander of the 20th Air Force and responsible for overseeing 450 ICBMs, was frequently rude to his counterparts, socialized with suspicious foreign women, and became so drunk that a witness worried he required help standing while leading a U.S. delegation to Russia in July 2013. Inebriated at a Mexican restaurant in Moscow, Carey attempted to play with the band, but they refused. In October 2013, Carey was fired due to a loss of trust and confidence in his leadership and judgment.
In 2016, the USAF admitted that 14 airmen were under investigation for allegedly using cocaine. On Thursday, The Associated Press published an article referring to records confirming that 14 airmen stationed at F.E. Warren AFB received disciplinary actions for using and/or distributing LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) and other illicit drugs at state parks and parties in Denver while off-duty.
Although none of the airmen have been accused of using drugs while on-duty, Airman Basic Kyle Morrison acknowledged at his court martial that he could not have responded if recalled to duty in a nuclear security emergency while high on LSD. According to Air Force records, the airmen abused and distributed LSD, cocaine, ecstasy, and marijuana during their off-duty hours between 2015 and 2016.
“Minutes felt like hours, colors seemed more vibrant and clear,” Morrison testified. “In general, I felt more alive.”
During a party at a Cheyenne apartment in late 2015, Airman 1st Class Nickolos Harris told the other airmen that social media was forbidden in order to conceal their illicit activities. But in March 2016, Air Force prosecutors began to investigate the drug ring after one of the members posted a Snapchat video depicting the airman smoking marijuana.
One month after Morrison’s court martial, he began working as an informant for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. In addition to acquiring legally admissible evidence against 10 other airmen, Morrison agreed to testify against other airmen in order to avoid a punitive discharge. He was sentenced to five months’ confinement, 15 days of hard labor, and loss of $5,200 in pay.
After pleading guilty to using and distributing LSD and using ecstasy, cocaine, and marijuana, Harris was sentenced to 12 months in jail and other penalties, but under a pretrial agreement he avoided a punitive discharge. Charged with desertion, Airman 1st Class Devin Hagarty admitted to using cocaine, ecstasy, and marijuana multiple times before he was sentenced to 13 months in a military jail.
In total, fourteen airmen were disciplined, while six of them were convicted in courts martial of LSD use or distribution or both.