Saturday, May 4, 2013

Burglars, intruders a problem at West Fertilizer

Investigation points to meth cooks

West – Over the years, some 42 police calls went out for officers to respond to various emergencies or investigations at the West Fertilizer Company. They developed 18 cases dating back to the 90's in which intruders or burglars stole goods or prowled the premises under cover of night.

Some of the cases are closed. Many others are still open, unsolved.

In one bizarre series of cases, an intruder broke into the office and used the computer to visit on-line porno sites.

In another, an employee who had no driver's license and was restricted to driving machinery around the equipment yard stole a one-ton truck and drove it without permission to Clifton where officers apprehended him for DWI after he crashed it in a traffic accident. The business owner, Donald Adair, told officers he hated to file charges on him for theft, but his insurance agent changed his mind when he learned it was necessary to recover a damage claim.
The concern sells hay moving equipment, and someone stole a truck-mounted round bale spear. More than once, the plant manager, Cody Dragoo, learned that trucks owned by the business were stripped of their wheels and tires, left jacked up on blocks. Sometimes, the burglars even stole the hydraulic and handy man jacks.

But theft of anhydrous ammonia – a key ingredient in cooking the methamphetamine addicts inject into their blood stream, snort, or smoke – was a constant worry.

Reports of losing as much as 150 pounds of the dangerous gas – which is stored as a liquid in pressurized tanks – on successive nights, come up over and over.

Plant Manager Cody Dragoo, a member of the West Volunteer Fire Department and one of the 12 men who lost their lives as first responders when the fire and explosion happened on April 17, is listed as the complainant on many of investigation reports.

A key indicator that the thefts occurred was the obnoxious odor – a breathtaking experience, to say the least – drifting out of the leaking valves that were left damaged by the thieves, over the road, into a residential area, and a nearby school.

Until federal investigators established the West Fertilizer Company as a crime scene, there were no fences at the place of business, no burglar alarms. The property backs up to some railroad tracks and a cultivated row crop field.

Numerous police calls regarded a suspicious man wandering around the property.

Employees would often arrive and find an unlocked sliding door of a seed bin left standing open, office doors ajar, roll-up doors pried open by fork lifts and jacks.

It's a dangerous place, the buildings where seeds treated with glyphosate, the once-patented Monsanto product known as Round-Up, are stored. These seeds are impregnated with the chemical to make the sprout resistant to the pre-emergent herbicide which attacks broad leaf and cereal weeds and keep them from robbing the soil of its moisture.

The rooms and bins are fumigated with a highly flammable cyanide compound called phosphine, a pelletized preparation similar to mothballs which deteriorates in the air and poisons rodents if they eat the seeds. A similar molecule is a key constituent of the self-oxidizing Otto fuel developed by the German Imperial Navy to power torpedoes underwater, burning without oxygen.

It was eventually used by the SS to exterminate Jews, Gypsies, political prisoners and Freemasons after its limits had been similarly tested in the closed environments of gas chambers to prove just how much a sailor could stand in the forced draft environment of a diesel-electric unterseaboot.

In the office, there were rifled cash drawers, cracked safes, purloined business equipment. In many cases, there are records of the interrogation and polygraph examinations of the kind of sad little crooks who readily give themselves up for their crimes after a Justice of the Peace advises them of their rights and charges them with the kind of offenses that can put them in the pen for many, many years.

With the data base available to investigators, the fixed and unswerving conditions remain a constant; the variables applied and cleared, one by one, through deduction, leave only the anomalous.

If there is a perpetrator or perpetrators to be held accountable, some of the world's most effective sleuths, the federal agents who study explosions, the detectives who bust burglars, and the insurance investigators who are so effective at catching arsonists, are sure to find them.

1 comment:

  1. "...In one bizarre series of cases, an intruder broke into the office and used the computer to visit on-line porno sites."

    Yeah, that would be my story too!