The bombshell indictments handed down Friday in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election targeted an operation known as the Internet Research Agency.

Duval Arthur, director of homeland security and emergency preparedness for St. Mary Parish, has heard the name before.

Reporting by the New York Times Magazine had linked the Russia-based Internet Research Agency to a chemical release alert hoax in St. Mary Parish, fueled by text messages and fake social media postings, on Sept. 11, 2014.

The indictments released Friday by the team of special counsel Robert Mueller said two Russians traveled to Louisiana and eight other states in June 2014, about three months before the St. Mary Parish alert hoax.

Alexsandra Yuryevna Krylova, alleged to be a high-ranking member of the Internet Research Agency, and Anna Vladislavovna Bogacheva, who the indictments say was a translator and in charge of data acquisition, came to the United States “under false pretenses for the purpose of collecting intelligence to inform (the agency’s) operations,” according to the indictments.

The indictments don’t mention the St. Mary Parish case specifically.

But the allegations raise the possibility that the St. Mary Parish alert hoax was a test run for subsequent political operations by the Internet Research Agency or a method for learning how to compromise important public safety infrastructure in the United States.

“Is it political? I don’t know,” Arthur said Saturday. “I don’t know why they did it unless it’s to find out what our response would be or whether they could take over our text messaging system.”

The alert went out sometime before 8:30 a.m. on the 13 th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

St. Mary Parish residents received alerts warning of a chemical release at the Columbian Chemicals plant near Centerville.

The plant produces carbon black, which is essentially a refined soot used to reinforce rubber in products such as tires and as a pigment in paint and ink.

Arthur said he needed only about an hour to contact the plant and determine that there was no chemical release. He later obtained a letter from the company and posted it on Facebook.

“It appeared to be a hoax to us right off the bat,” Arthur said.

But the New York Times Magazine’s Amy Chen reported in 2015 that “dozens of journalists, media outlets and politicians, from Louisiana to New York City, found their Twitter accounts inundated with messages about the disaster.”

Among the links that showed up in social media posts about the alleged release was one to a YouTube video in which ISIS had claimed credit for the attack on the St. Mary plant. In the video, men purported to be ISIS fighters spoke over footage of an explosion, according to the New York Times Magazine. None of the material was true.

Arthur said he contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the fake phone numberused to initiate the alert, looking for help in tracking down the people behind the hoax. He said the FBI didn’t share any information about the owner of the number.

“I felt bad that we couldn’t make the case against anybody,” Arthur said.

According to The Associated Press, Friday’s indictments named 13 Russians, including Yevgeny Prigozhin, a wealthy St. Petersburg businessman with links to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Prigozhin is alleged to have financed the Internet Research Agency’s operation, which the indictment describes as a wide-ranging Russian effort to sway political opinion in the United States through a strategy that involved creating internet postings in the names of Americans whose identities had been stolen; staging political rallies while posing as American political activists; and paying people in the U.S. to promote or disparage candidates.

Krylova and Bogacheva were also among the individuals who were indicted.

“This indictment serves as a reminder that people are not always who they appear to be on the internet,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Friday. “The indictment alleges that the Russian conspirators want to promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy. We must not allow them to succeed.”

**The Associated Press contributed to the reporting for this story.**