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Zainab Calcuttawala

Zainab Calcuttawala

Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…

More Info

U.S. Oilfield Explosives Stolen by Rogue Domestic Bomb-Maker

The man who stole explosives from firms working in North Dakota’s oil patch and stashed them in his home also possessed prohibited guns, over 1,100 rounds of bullets and manuals on creating bombs from scratch, officials close to the matter told The Associated Press.

Court documents shows that an informant for the regional drug task force had tipped off security forces that the suspect, Tyler Porter, planned to sell his homemade explosives for large sums of money, though the identities of his customers are still uncertain.

A district court has charged the 35-year-old with "stealing and possessing explosives, possessing an unregistered rifle and being a felon in possession of firearms,” The San Francisco Gate reported. He faces up to 40 years in prison, if a jury of his peers finds him guilty.

The Associated Press has requested comment from the federal public defender's office representing him, but has not received a response as of yet.

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Evidence suggests Porter robbed two Williston-based oil field service companies of 200 explosives with a cutting torch he used to pry open padlocked storage units.

An affidavit filed at the hands of Special Agent Daniel Mehlhoff from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said an informant told an officer that Porter had stored the stolen goods in his home and wanted to sell them.

After the police arrested Porter on May 13th, they searched his home and car and found many hazardous items and a backpack filled with tools traditionally use to break into locked rooms and facilities. One of the books in his possession was titled “Field Methods for Explosives Preparations” and another was called “Improvised Explosives - How to Make Your Own,” Mehlhoff said.

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The defendant’s transfer to a federal court caused his previous felony theft and drug charges to be dismissed on Wednesday. The agent who filed the affidavit said the case required federal court jurisdiction since the explosives in question had been built outside of the state.


Porter has been convicted of burglary and grand larceny in South Carolina in the past, and in North Dakota, a court found him guilty of assault.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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  • NB on May 30 2016 said:
    Chill out, Bill. With respect to your comments:

    1) The cutting torch was used to cut through the shackle of the lock. Although not stated in other news reports, it is common to use a torch together with a prybar to remove a lock...you heat the shackle with the torch, then use the prybar to manipulate the shackle without burning yourself.

    2) Another news source reported that the confiscated rifle had an illegally shortened barrel. You DO need to register such a weapon. When acquired, an individual will be required to file a BATFE Form 4, Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of a Firearm, and pay a $200 tax. The two weapons charges against the individual were for A) possession of an illegally modified rifle and B) possession of a weapon by a felon--the person apprehended had a previous felony conviction.

    3) True, it is not unusual for a typical US citizen to possess 1,100+ rounds of ammunition. But this is not a typical citizen, he is a convicted felon with a short barrel rifle and stolen explosives. According to the Associated Press "Porter has a lengthy criminal history including convictions on terrorizing and assault charges in North Dakota and burglary and grand larceny in South Carolina."

    And what's with your snide comment on the reporter being "better served by sticking to events taking place in Morocco?" She is an American citizen who has recently graduated from the University of Texas. Her LinkedIn profile is pretty solid for someone so young.
  • Bob Cormack on May 27 2016 said:
    Perhaps this author would be better served by sticking to events taking place in Morocco - she seems to have some strange ideas about events in America:

    1) Cutting torches are seldom (perhaps never?) used to "pry" things open. Much better (and cheaper) tools are available for that, such as crowbars. (They can be used to 'cut' things open however -- hence the name.)

    2) Rifles are not "registered" in N. Dakota, hence possessing an "unregistered" one is normal, not a crime. (Perhaps if he took it to California -- maybe.)

    3) Given the recent ammunition shortages, possessing (stockpiling) 1000 rounds of ammunition for a rifle is not at all unusual. Many people who are trying to build enough skill for hunting, say, can go through that much in 4 - 5 sessions at a range. 30 years ago it was common to just buy what you needed for the immediate future, but the last few years it has become common for some types of ammunition to be unavailable for many months at a time encouraging people to stockpile it for the future.

    While stealing explosives is definitely a crime, the juxtaposition of other non-criminal acts presented as if they were crimes (and absurdities such as "prying" things open with a "cutting torch") damages her credibility.

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