Las Vegas police have arrested two men in the theft of 240 pounds of commercial-grade explosives last week from a Southern Nevada mining business.
Sergio Bautista, 33, and Eric Golden, 54, both of Las Vegas, are charged with conspiracy, burglary, grand larceny, possession of stolen property and possession of an explosive device.
Metropolitan Police Department arrest reports for both men state they were apprehended after 240 pounds of ammonium nitrate fuel oil explosives and sticks of ammonium nitrate Blastex were stolen during a burglary at Hinton Mining, which provides explosives for the PABCO Gypsum plant in the desert east of the Las Vegas Valley.
Bautista’s defense attorney, G. Oliver Melgar, declined comment for this story. An attorney for Golden could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.
The arrest reports say police responded May 13 to a burglary call near the PABCO plant. They were led by the owner of Hinton Mining to a property in the desert where the company’s storage facilities were broken into.
“When (the owner) went into the trailer, he noticed that one box of ‘Blast X’ was missing,” police said. “(The owner) stated that inside of the box was 18 sticks of ammonium nitrate.”
‘Extensive criminal history’
Further inspection showed four 50-pound bags of ammonium nitrate fuel oil explosives and tools worth at least $1,500 were missing, too. Las Vegas police counterterrorism detectives started an investigation, as did investigators with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Las Vegas police said in the arrest reports that crime scene analysts recovered fingerprints from a fire extinguisher. The fingerprints, when entered into a law enforcement database, were identified as Bautista’s, police said.
“There are no reasons Bautista’s fingerprints would be on the fire extinguisher that detectives believe was used to break open the welding toolbox, other than the purpose of breaking the toolbox,” police said.
Bautista was described in his arrest report as having “an extensive criminal history of violent and property crimes,” including several domestic violence arrests. Further investigation showed “Bautista and Golden have likely known each other for several years and are more than casual associates.”
Detectives obtained recorded phone calls between Bautista and Golden from the Clark County Detention Center, where Bautista was incarcerated previously. Police said the men were heard in one conversation discussing “an abandoned mine 40 miles outside of Alamo.” Police said they later examined GPS satellite tracking records linked to an electronic device owned by Bautista, and it placed him in the area of the remote Hinton Mining property on the night of the burglary, police said.
Police said they tracked both men to a home on the 2300 block of Beaver Bay Court, near East Carey Avenue and North Hollywood Boulevard, where a search warrant was executed. Both men were arrested Saturday, jail records show.
Police recovered the ammonium nitrate fuel oil and the box of “Blastex Charges.” Police said when they interviewed Bautista, he told them Golden invited him to go off-roading on the night of the burglary and that they went “somewhere in the desert.” Bautista said at some point he picked up a fire extinguisher in the desert, but he denied breaking into the mining property or stealing the ammonium nitrate, police said.
Detectives asked Golden why he thought he was in custody and Golden responded, “because of the dynomite.” Golden said on the night of the theft, he and Bautista went off-roading in the area of the Hinton and PABCO facilities, “to the trailers where they keep the ‘dynomite,’” Golden told police.
Police said Golden confessed to taking the Blastex and the bag filled with ammonium nitrate along with Bautista.
“Golden knew the materials in the bag (ANFO) and the box (Blastex Charges) were explosive,” police said in the report. “Golden stated he wanted to take them to make firework.”
The ATF and PABCO did not respond to requests for comment.
Ammonium nitrate was a key component used in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 that killed 168 people.