Mercenary-style guards now stationed at Wisconsin iron mine drilling site




Update 9:40AM 07/09:  After scouring the net yesterday, I can tell you that the must-read post on this is “Bienvenido a Nicaragua” at the blog Woodsperson.

Below you will find photos, a collection of mainstream media stories, a bit of my commentary on said stories, a video interview of one of the guards from Paul DeMain of ICTV, and lastly, a listing of journalists to send this post to.

If you would like to see this story get attention at the national level, take a minute to send this to one of the folks that I link to at the very bottom of the post.  I thank you in advance for your concern and your time.

Photo credit: Jim Limbach

Photo credit: Rob Ganson

Photo credit: Jim Limbach


Update 10AM 07/09

Wisconsin Public Radio

Joy Cardin Show:  07/09 Armed guards at proposed iron mine site – This will take you to their archive. You have to go down a couple of notches to find “Armed guards…..”

– Mike Simonson, Wisconsin Public Radio reporter in Superior; he’s been covering the mining issue in northern Wisconsin.
– Janet Bewley, Democratic State Representative from Ashland, whose district includes the proposed mining site.
– Mike Wiggins, Tribal Chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe.
– Paul DeMain, producer for and a former Indian Affairs Policy Advisor under Governor Anthony Earl from 1982-1986.
(Note: invitations to GOP State Sen. Tom Tiffany, Gogebic Taconite and the Wisconsin Mining Association were either declined or unreturned)

Joy also had Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen on her show Monday 07/09 [also available at that archive].  In the last minute of the show she asked him if the D.O.J. is looking into the guards – and she asked if they were legal.  Van Hollen dodged the question and then their time was up.

I haven’t seen a statement from DOJ or Scott Walker’s office regarding the guards yet.

Update 10PM 07/08

WISC TV Channel 3 / Channel3000
Pictures show armed guards at G-Tac mining site
Visitors uneasy about new security measures

There are comments in this video from Madisonians Amy and Bruce Noble as well as Shahla Werner with the John Muir chapter of the Sierra Club in Madison. The story also includes a brief segment of Paul DeMain’s video.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Mining company draws fire for hiring armed guards
Lawmakers call for Gogebic Taconite to remove security

Notice that this story starts out quoting the cash value of the mine at $1.5 billion?
Anything from M.J.Sentinel is better never than late. This one is at least brief. Be careful when you wade through their comments. I betcha somebody planted troublemakers in there in the manner of Fake David Koch.

WI Public Radio
GTAC Hires Armed Security To Protect Drill Sites
Brief story.
Senator Jauch says this.
Bob Seitz says that.


Wisconsin State Journal

‘Bulletproof’ Arizona security team raises hackles at Gogebic mine site in Wisconsin State Journal
This article kicks off the story with the fact that two members of the Wisconsin legislature are asking the mine company, Gogebic Taconite, to remove their automatic weapon-toting guards. Bob Seitz of Gogebic Taconite couldn’t sound more arrogant in this.
Gogebic spokesman Bob Seitz laughed at the suggestion that the company would remove the guard detail, which he said was hidden in the forest photographing illegal campers before they were noticed at a test drill site recently. The campers were believed to be potential vandals, Seitz said.

“That’s why none of those (guards) was visible, is because they have been monitoring people on our lands,” Seitz said. “I’m not very concerned about what (weapons) a security firm selects. They have to provide a safe workplace for their people, too.”

The article also quotes Iron County Sheriff Tony Furyk, Paul DeMain of ICTV, Senator Jauch, Rep. Bewley, and Kimberlee Wright, executive director of Midwest Environmental Advocates in Madison.

The deficit in remarks from Sheriff Furyk in the W.S.Journal is in stark contrast to the Woodsperson blog post which notes that Furyk “is very upset about this situation and is being hounded by the media.  But with current Wisconsin “open carry” laws “anybody can walk around with a weapon in public and there is nothing I can do about it.””

While Woodperson suspects that the private guards are conducting an illegal activity on lands open to the public, the author of the W.S.Journal does not even ‘go there’. Seitz is quoted speaking of illegal campers and we the reader are left wondering who exactly these campers are and how it is they were ‘illegal’.

WQOW TV Eau Claire
Lawmaker asks mining company to remove armed guards
A brief story with two photos. No video included.

Duluth News Tribune
Wisconsin lawmakers ask Gogebic Taconite to remove armed guards
I’m a little concerned with the way the June attack by a set of anarchists is treated in here. The writer says that the company began employing private security guards after teams of mining opponents “dressed in black and wearing masks violently attacked our drill site” in June.
I would actually have preferred a whole paragraph in there making it explicit what happened. Leaving it vague leaves it to the imagination and whow knows what the uninitiated are thinking after reading that.

Update 12:30PM 07/08
This post at the Woodsperson blog is excellent and answers most of my questions: Bienvenido a Nicaragua

Update 12:30AM 07/08:
VIDEO: Paul DeMain of Indian Country News chats with one of the guards.

Update 07/07:
I spoke with Jim Limbach. He did not want to speculate about the new guards and he has no more information than I do. He said he asked one of the men if he could take a photo and the guard said nothing in reply. Jim said, “I stepped back a couple of steps and took a photo.”


Original post 07/07: I gather through facebook comments that all guards refused to answer any questions when approached. At least four people have encountered these guards.

According to a recent citizen-visitor, this is a photo of a guard stationed at the site where Gogebic Taconite has recently been drilling core samples for a proposed iron mine.

I am appealing to you, reader, to join me in sending this blog post to one or more of the press contacts listed below.

I’m hoping that The Press can get answers to a few of my questions:

Are the heavily armed men who are standing sentry near the Gogebic Taconite drill site in northern Wisconsin in fact private paid guards as is suspected?

If they are part of a security detail, what is the name of the company they are working for?

Are they paid strictly by Gogebic Tactonite or are county, state, or federal governments subsidizing their presence?

Who are they ordered to turn their guns on and at what point?

See more site photos and follow up on developments as they occur at United in Defense of the Water.

Also see Indian Country News for ongoing reports on the site.


Wisconsin State Journal
Dee Hall
investigative/projects reporter,
608 252-6132,

Cap Times
Managing editor: Chris Murphy,

Madison TV
Channel 3000 / WISC TV
Editorial Director Neil Heinen

Station Manager
Tom Bier

WKOW Channel 27
Newsroom: 608-273-2727
Tony Galli, Reporter
News Director
Joe Radske

Milwaukee Press
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Patrick Marley

M.J.S. Watchdog Team

Shepherd Express
(414) 276-2222

Wisconsin Public Radio
Michael Leland, News Director
“Call our Audience Services Center toll-free at 1-800-747-7444”

Twin Cities/Minnesota
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Josephine Marcotty
Investigative reporter | Health
Phone: 612-673-7394

Non WI Press

Democracy Now


DeSmog Blog

Rolling Stone
[Ideally Matt Taibbi]

Mother Jones
David Corn
Twitter: @DavidCornDC
I’ll be adding a few more contacts later this afternoon. Feel free to leave press contact information in comments.


Chicago Tribune,
Barbara Brotman “Outdoors Columnist”

Chicago Tribune,
Watchdog Reporter: Environment Reporter
phone 312-222-3315

Sun Times
Craig Newman Managing editor
(312) 321-2175


  26 comments for “Mercenary-style guards now stationed at Wisconsin iron mine drilling site

  1. xlntech
    July 10, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Anyone notice the upside-down American flag on the guard in the second picture?

    • Trs48
      July 10, 2013 at 8:42 pm

      It’s not upside down, and is being worn correctly on the right shoulder as intended by various regulations.

  2. July 9, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    Bluecheddar: you need to bombard media organizations with some of these pictures of masked thugs. Lame-stream media (starting with Wisc. State Journal, story picked up by Chippewa Herald, La Crosse Tribune, Cap Times, and others) are all running the only picture they could find of a thug withOUT a mask.

    They’re making the thugs look deceptively benign.

  3. Patrick
    July 8, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    These men are wearing the new army multicam uniforms. (google it if you don’t believe me) The tops they have are combat shirts that are MUCH lighter than the full uniform top, and are worn usually under a Kevlar vest to keep cool. The gloves the top man is wearing are Oakley assault gloves, and they are anything BUT bulky, LOTS of troops wear them. They are comfy and keep your knuckles safe from hitting corners, walls, etc when moving tactically. They are NOT wearing tennis shoes, those are combat boots. They just don’t have their pant legs tucked in or bloused. They look very similar to either Oakley combat boots, or Tactical Research boots. The top man’s weapon has a white label on the buttstock which is usually a sign of military use. Military armories usually keep the weapons labeled for inventory and issuing purposes (currently in the air force as military police) All of that equipment on his weapon is military grade BUT can be obtained with the right tax stamps. And his sidearm’s holster is one usually issued out by the armory. Now I’m not saying that this is the military involved, but I’m just saying what I know about their uniforms and equipment.

    • Whatever
      July 9, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      Yea dude he’s got on a cri top knock off of the shit I as an infantryman in afganistan would where what a fuckin joke, triple xl probably. I’m assuming hems some fat cherry national guard pog who wants to pretend he is all high speed putting all that gear queer crap on. And to dude below me your stupid that guys not a “mercenaries” he’s a joke look at his belly henis ovies didn’t have anything to do on the weekend but Discrace my fucking uniform I where when I have to fight Taliban I wish some one would kick his ass and havenhim take off that uniform that’s reserved for deployed army soilders not fat fuck douch bags like that. God I hate people sometimes.

      • Whatever
        July 9, 2013 at 5:31 pm

        Sorry for typeos I’m using some I pad thing with auto correct and my sausage fingers, along with angry fast typing so excuse them. I didn’t proof read I just pressed send.

      • Trs48
        July 10, 2013 at 8:45 pm

        Guys like me were issued multicam uniforms while guys like you were still wearing UCP for your ACU’s and long before they were US military issue. So relax. I find your comments about his weight equally ignorant.

  4. Nancy Gonzalez
    July 8, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    If you don’t want armed mercenaries in Wisconsin, then maybe “Krow” and her ‘comrades’ shouldn’t have invited an out-of-state eco-terrorist group here for a weekend training session. This is a tit-for-tat direct result of the criminal and irresponsible behavior of her and her little clan.
    They accomplish nothing except turning the public’s opinion against them and undermining the anti-mine effort.

  5. Anonymous
    July 8, 2013 at 11:46 am

    First off they are not mercenaries as they are not private individuals taking sides in a foreign armed conflict. Secondly while civilians who’ve never served in the military may find there gear “hot and sweaty” it’s not really that bad once you get used to it. I suspect it’s for two reasons. One it intimidates the ignorant and it also protects against “predatory” mosquitos. The airsoft gun mentioned in comments above is probably carried as “less than” lethal option.

    • CitizenVictory
      July 8, 2013 at 4:17 pm

      Apparently you need to look up the definition of the word mercenary.

      A merc is nothing more than a hired gun. Doesn’t matter if they’re involved in a war or not.

    • matt
      July 8, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      You have no idea what you are talking about

      • CitizenVictory
        July 9, 2013 at 4:44 am

        Keep trying to convince yourself of that, you ignorant tool. ;-}~

      • CitizenVictory
        July 9, 2013 at 4:45 am

        That was meant for “anonymous” up above.

    • Political fodder
      July 11, 2013 at 3:23 pm

      [mur-suh-ner-ee] Show IPA adjective, noun, plural mer·ce·nar·ies.
      1.working or acting merely for money or other reward; venal.
      2.hired to serve in a foreign army, guerrilla organization, etc.
      3.a professional soldier hired to serve in a foreign army.
      4.any hireling.

      The privatization of the US armed forces is the biggest threat the to the people of the United States that I have ever seen in my lifetime. Weapons, uniforms and all kinds of technology developed for our country has been put in private hands, this should have never happened. We now have private individuals who have made a fortune on the backs of the US tax payers through war who are loyal only to themselves and their fortunes having US trained personnel & equipment available for their use against US citizens.

      When I heard soldiers saying that they were fighting for the guy next to them instead of their country it alarmed me. These soldiers did not enter the army because of the guy next to them they joined because of the desire to serve their country. The fact that when they were done with their training their understanding of what they were fighting for was changed should alarm everyone.

      The systematic undermining of the American people is so vast and has taken place in the our government, military and media and is very close to complete. If massive numbers of Americans don’t start to get it soon and stand up peacefully to these forces we are toast.

      We need people to call out the media on their omissions, lies, distractions and outright propaganda.

      We need to defund corporations that have no loyalty to the people and country. Stop shopping at their stores, buying their services and divest any investments in their corporations.

      We need to insist that law enforcement state to actually bring criminal charges against the wealthy & the corporations and apply the law in the same manner. In other words we have to stop allowing money to buy those responsible out of a jail sentence.

      We need to educate the population about the massive propaganda campaign that has been waged against the American people.

      We need to take the corporate charters away from the privatized military.

      We need to demilitarize our police departments.

      We need to get the money out of our politics, end insider trading and end lobbying.

      We need to Amend the constitution to say that corporations are not people and money is not speech.

      • CitizenVictory
        July 11, 2013 at 11:14 pm

        Well said–particularly the part about corporations not being people.

        This country has gotten so fck’d up because of absolute lunatics in positions of political power.

  6. Joe Skulan
    July 8, 2013 at 4:58 am

    This should put an end to any speculation about whether the these mercenaries really are there:

  7. July 8, 2013 at 12:01 am

    Paint ball guns don’t have flash suppressors and laser sights. Nor do they have box magazines. Look at the shoulder patch on the uniform. Camo-colored military style insignia.

    • gomez
      July 8, 2013 at 3:04 am

      lets see, how many grey suppressors/silencers are on the market? I’m going with ‘none’ How many guards wear knee pads and tennis shoes? Again I’m going with none. how many guards wear a ski mask and gloves in the summer? I’m going with none. What sort of organized force has different ‘uniforms’ shoes and hats for each member. As for the vest it appears to be nothing more than 2 or 3 layers of canvas. I don’t see anything that passes for a laser sight. as for box magazines for paint ballers take a gander at what I see is some of wannabe posers.

  8. Rev. Carter A. Dary
    July 7, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    I just spoke to the Ashland Cty Sheriff’s dept dispatcher. This story is false! There are NO such paramilitary types on the site and have not been! The site is gated and even my passionate response would not have gotten me inside to protest! I’ve been hood winked into believing this and I’m now very ANGRY! I don’t tolerate, condone or support liars of any stripe! Stop this nonsense and use your considerable energy to find a legal remedy! Then call me!

    • Joe Skulan
      July 8, 2013 at 1:24 am

      Carter: Please stop. You have gone way beyond reasonable skepticism and into hurling accusations based on the slenderest evidence. Did you stop to consider that a dispatcher sitting at a desk 30 miles away might not have the most up to date information on what is happening on the ground in another county? You clearly have no concept of the geography or jurisdictions in the area. Citizens have been monitoring the site for months, and very little that happens there goes unobserved. I have visited most of the sites myself. The photographs are real. The mercenaries are there. Your eagerness to deny does not speak well of your rationality or your motives.

      • July 8, 2013 at 3:20 am

        lets see Mercenaries letting you take photos of them? How does that work? Also the guy in the top two photos – yeah, the guy with the paunch – wearing the sidearm and the very big gloves how do you imagine he’s every going to pull the trigger on that sidearm?

        • Joe Skulan
          July 8, 2013 at 4:19 am

          Take a minute to think about what you are saying rather than trying to impress with your manly knowledge of firearms. Would armed mercenaries hired by GTac shoot someone just for taking a photograph of them? I think even mercenaries know that there are laws against murder, and that these have some chance of being enforced here. Pretty bad PR for GTac, too. And would GTac really let nuts walk around its drill sites pretending to be mercenaries? Why? Only GTac employees are allowed near that equipment.

  9. HK556WI
    July 7, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    It also looks like he is carrying 2 suppressed weapons. He has the one in front on his body and what looks to be a HK MP5SD slung on his back. Now the question would be what is the need for this type of weaponry on a security guard.

  10. Gomez
    July 7, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    Looks like a paint baller

Comments are closed.