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Press Release

Snohomish County man who had arsenal of guns and explosives and an underground bunker sentenced to 42 months in prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Defendant was prohibited from possessing firearms due to prior felony convictions

Seattle – A 42-year-old Snohomish County man was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 42 months in prison for illegal possession of firearms and destructive devices, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. James Wesley Bowden was arrested in November 2021, following an altercation at his property on Burn Road.  Sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene when Bowden threatened another man with a gun.  At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez, noted that Bowden’s drug addiction likely caused a substantial portion of his criminal conduct.

According to records filed in the case, when law enforcement responded to the report of the altercation, they found a room set up in the garage that was much like a laboratory with various chemicals and equipment consistent with the manufacturing of homemade explosives.

Garage lab
Garage lab

After they made sure the explosives were rendered safe, they discovered a removable panel in the floor of the garage that led to an underground bunker.  Inside the bunker were firearms, ammunition, grenades, silencers, ballistic armor, firearms accessories, and other equipment.  Two of the firearms had been modified to shoot as fully automatic machine guns.

entrance to bunker
Entrance to bunker

In May 2022, Bowden pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of machineguns and possession of a destructive device.

Bowden was prohibited from possessing any firearms because of two prior felony convictions: Burglary (1998) and theft of a firearm (1998).

Personnel from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), FBI, Washington State Patrol and the Washington National Guard all worked to mitigate the hazards present at the Burn Road residence.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Cecelia Gregson.


Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or

Updated December 5, 2022

Firearms Offenses