FBI probes claims of AIDS-tainted razors sent to UCLA professor
The FBI and local police on Wednesday were investigating another incident involving a UCLA neuroscientist, this one involving an animal-rights group that claims to have sent "AIDS-tainted" razors to the researcher.
Officials stressed that they don't know whether the razors had any substance on them, but that they are trying to find out.
Earlier this month, David Jentsch, who does research on rodents and primates, received the package that is the focus of the investigation, UCLA spokesman Phil Hampton said.
Previously, animal-rights activists have demonstrated in front of Jentsch's house and allegedly set fire to his car.
In a news release issued Tuesday, the Animal Liberation Front said it had obtained statements from animal activists called "The Justice Department of UCLA," which claimed responsibility for sending AIDS-tainted razor blades to Jentsch, whom the group alleges has injected the rodents with addictive drugs.
"How would Jentsch like the same thing he does to primates to be done to him?" the statement said.
Hampton said the incident is under investigation by the FBI and UCLA police. The activists claimed to have sent a similar package to one of Jentsch's researchers, but there is no evidence that package was received, UCLA said.
For several years, UCLA researchers have been harassed by groups seeking to halt animal research.
In March 2009, Jentsch's vehicle was blown up outside his home, an incident for which extremists also claimed responsibility, UCLA said in a statement.
Jentsch's work, much of it funded by the National Institutes of Health, has provided key information on biochemical processes that contribute to methamphetamine addiction affecting teens, and disabilities affecting speech and behavior of schizophrenia patients, UCLA said.
"Responsible use of animals in research aimed at improving the health and welfare of the mentally ill is the right thing to do," Jentsch said in a statement. "We will continue to do so because we have a moral responsibility to society to use our skills for the betterment of the world."
-- Robert J. Lopez
Photo: UCLA professor David Jentsch at a pro-animal-research rally in 2009. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times