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UCLA neuroscientist receives threatening package apparently sent by militant animal-rights group

November 23, 2010 |  7:14 pm

Jentsch

UCLA neuroscientist J. David Jentsch received a package containing razor blades and a threatening note this month, the university confirmed Tuesday. According to a statement from UCLA, both university police and the FBI are investigating the incident, as well as another claim from a militant animal-rights group that it sent a similar package to a graduate student researcher who works in Jentsch's laboratory. There is no evidence to suggest that the latter package was received.

A group called the Justice Department has claimed responsibility for the incident and alleged in a statement that the razor blades were tainted with the blood of an AIDS-infected person. That statement, posted on a website maintained by the group Animal Liberation Front, accused Jentsch of "addicting primates to phencyclidine known on the streets as PCP and other street drugs using grant money from the federal government."

On its website, the ALF distanced itself from the Justice Department, stating that the latter group doesn't adhere to the ALF's principles of "avoiding harm to all animals, including human ones, and [instead] adopted guidelines more similar to those of the Animal Rights Militia (ARM)."

Jentsch uses vervet monkeys in experiments that have "provided critical insights into the biochemical processes that contribute to methamphetamine addiction and tobacco dependence in teens and the cognitive disabilities affecting behavior, speech and reasoning in schizophrenia patients," UCLA's statement continued. Jentsch -- who organized a rally on campus in favor of animal experimentation last year after his car was set on fire, allegedly by opponents of biomedical research on animals -- has said that animal testing is necessary to save human lives

Learn more about the incident at The Times' local news blog, L.A. Now.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Jentsch in an April 2009 demonstration in support of animal experimentation at UCLA. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times

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