VAN BUREN, Ark. — A report published Tuesday by Buzzfeed found Thor Global Defense, an international weapons supplier headquartered in Crawford County, went to great lengths in 2017 to acquire significant amounts of napalm.
The chemical agent synonymous with civilian casualties during the Vietnam War is not illegal itself, but its use in a military context is restricted under international treaty.
Aram Roston is the journalist who broke the story. Documents he obtained from sources show a Thor sales consultant sought quotes for a “maximum monthly production” of napalm, to be delivered every two months. Thor would be serving as a purchaser and/or importer.
“She didn’t say who the customer was, whether they had it, or what they were going to do with it,” Roston said, referring to Thor sales consultant Gretchen Davis. “All she said was that it was all legal.”
Roston says Davis later clarified that the potential napalm was not for military purposes, but told him “If a military needs napalm, I can place an order.”
“Everybody I talked to was shocked,” Roston told us in a phone interview Tuesday. “We are talking about people who know the military, know the intelligence world, who know what is being used in various theaters of war as we speak. And they were all confounded and somewhat upset.”
Roston says in his research he found there are few non-military purposes for napalm. Some hobbyists use it for recreational flame-throwers, but he says the quantity demand for that niche is nowhere near what the Arkansas arms dealer tried to get its hands on.
“It’s important for people to know that this trade is going on,” Roston added “That people are looking for something this notorious, this dangerous, and this historically devastating.”
There are no indications of whether Thor was successful in finding napalm, meaning there’s no way of knowing right now if the substance ever made its way to Arkansas.
Casey Glidewell’s home sits about 100 feet from Thor’s headquarters and gun range in Van Buren. She says the news of her neighbor’s napalm acquisition efforts hits a little too close for comfort, quite literally.
Federal authorities raided Thor Global Defense on May 2nd. A spokesperson for the US Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas refused to comment on the nature of the investigation.
Attempts made Tuesday to contact Thor’s president, the sales consultant quoted in Buzzfeed, and the company’s Little Rock-based attorney were not returned as of Tuesday night.