In the past two days, there’s been some chatter in the mainstream media about a "person of interest" who managed to purchase 65, 25 kilogram bags of ammonium nitrate fertilizer from Vineland Grower’s Co-operative in Lincoln, Ontario, near St. Catharines way back on May 26th. Apparently, the 1625 kilograms of fertilizer is enough to make quite a bang should the "suspect" use it for nefarious purposes. Back in April 1995, the late Timothy McVeigh packed a truck with 1000 kilograms of ammonium nitrate and detonated it in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people.
In this case, it appears that the person in question skipped showing his identification, as required by law, since he gave staff the impression that he buying the fertilizer on behalf of a regular customer. This affiliation was later proven to be false. Apparently, there are surveillance cameras on site but it is unknown whether there is any useable video of the purchaser, although my suspicion is that there isn’t much of use since the police have released three different composite sketches. There has also been no confirmation from Inspector Gord Sneddon, a Toronto police officer who is heading up the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET) for the upcoming Summit in Toronto, whether a credit card or cash was used for the purchase. He also told reporters that the quantity purchased was not out of the ordinary for agricultural usage. In fact, he even suggested that it could be used for a grow-op.
Here is the Media Advisory from the Niagara Regional Police Service website:
On Wednesday May 26th, 2010 at approximately 2:00 pm a lone male attended Vineland Growers, located at 4150 Jordan Road in Lincoln. The male purchased a quantity of ammonium nitrate fertilizer which was then loaded onto a manufactured single axle flatbed trailer. Upon paying for the product the male left the area. At the time, the male gave staff the impression he was a regular customer, however, upon further review this was determined not to be the case. Investigators have received information that the male may be a local farmer. The male is described as having a short, stocky build, approximately 40 - 50 years old, possibly of Portuguese decent, walked with a slight limp and was missing fingers on his right hand. He was driving an older model, maroon or red coloured mini-van. ****UPDATE - PRESS CONFERENCE IN TORONTO**** At this time, INSET (Integrated National Security Enforcement Team), has taken the lead on this investigation. INSETs are made up of representatives from various agencies, including the RCMP, who oversee them. The nature of the material purchased in this incident necessitated that the RCMP be advised and they have been investigating this incident in conjunction with the Niagara Regional Police Service. INSET is now the lead investigator in this matter. A press conference is scheduled for Wednesday, June 9th, 2010 at 4 pm. The press conference will take place at Toronto Police Service Headquarters located at 40 College Street.
Here are the three sketches:
Is this much ado about nothing? While it is prudent to be cautious about this incident, it is quite possible that paranoia has already set in at the headquarters of the summit security gurus. It seems coincidental that, in the same week that there has been so much criticism of the government’s estimated expenditure of $1 billion on security for the G8/G20 Summits, that we already have our first "red alert". Why are the details of this purchase that took place nearly 2 weeks ago just hitting the public consciousness now? Seems a bit off.
Inspector Sneddon noted that the amount of ammonium nitrate purchased was not out of the ordinary for farm usage. It is planting season in rural Canada right now (even for outdoor grow-ops), maybe that’s why the man in question purchased that quantity of fertilizer (as a very rough guide, 150 pounds of ammonium nitrate will fertilize approximately one acre of land depending on the crop.). Apparently, the "suspect" loaded the 65 bags on a flatbed trailer, most likely in clear view of anyone who passed by. It may be just me, but if I were up to no good with ammonium nitrate, I’d probably think long and hard about transporting it in a cube van or something similar so it wouldn’t be quite so obvious to the general public.
If only Canada was like the United Kingdom where they have over 4 million closed circuit television cameras (20% of the world’s total) watching their citizens’ every move up to 300 times each day. The Canadian version of Big Brother would then certainly be able to tell us exactly who it was that purchased the ammonium nitrate, where they lived and what time they had supper on May 26th. As a bonus, the British have only spent just over a billion dollars in the past decade setting up their CCTV system, exactly what Canadians are going to spend for G8/G20 security in 72 hours! What a deal!
In case you happen to notice someone driving an older model maroon or red minivan towing a flatbed trailer that’s sitting really low on its springs, the man in question is Caucasian and speaks with a Portuguese accent, is between 40 and 50 years old, walks with a slight limp and is missing two fingers on his right hand (possibly from a farming accident – my addition) call Niagara Regional Police Service at (905) 688-4111. Police just want to ask him where he stashed the goods.
I guess that we shouldn’t make light of this story, at least now we’re getting something for our $1 billion!
The missing fertilizer has been found! The gentleman in question contacted the police and the missing ammonium nitrate has been located in Toronto.