Friday, May 25th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
An explosive bust made by local law enforcement agencies. Thursday, Investigators detonated a bomb in Osage County that was nearly sold to terrorists. KOTV's Sean Mossman has the exclusive story.
KOTV has been watching this investigation for about a month waiting for Thursday's event. At least six law enforcement agencies are involved, led by Osage and Creek Counties. This is a very scary tale of a drug network that tried to dabble in the sale of dangerous explosives. Shortly after Noon Thursday, the Tulsa Police Bomb Squad sets off a bucket of dynamite, about fifteen to twenty pounds of the dangerous explosive. Tulsa Police bomb squad Officer Ken Daggs says, "The dynamite was so old. It's hard to tell. It could be nitroglycerine based, and ammonia base. We don't know at this time."
This investigation dates back more than a year, when all of the bomb-making elements are stolen from several sights throughout the US. Police say a man involved in a large methamphetamine ring in Osage County helps with those thefts and stores the explosives near this house. That man is sent to prison for another offense, but police say his relative, Kenneth Armstrong, takes over as keeper of the explosives.
Osage County is investigating Armstrong when they get a tip in April and find 300 blasting caps at an accompliceâ€™s home. Two weeks later they are only minutes from inserting an informant into Armstrong's operation when a 2-year-old boy shoots a 5-year-old at Armstrong's Trailer near Sapulpa. That's when Creek County deputies get involved. Osage Co Sheriff's office Lt. Ron Revard says, "We learned at that time that there were going to be explosives involved in this case. We just didn't know where they were at the time." Police get their big break a couple of weeks later when suspect Nathan Katzenstein is shot my another man in Sapulpa.
While being treated at Tulsa Regional Medical Center, a blasting cap is found in Katzenstein's pocket. Revard says "its part of the same batch that comes out of the original container that was found in Osage County on April 10th." Katzenstein begins telling Creek County Deputies his story. "We've got physical evidence on him. He's trying to get himself out of a bind so he starts giving us information on the high explosives and where they're at."
Deputies search Armstrong's trailer this past Friday and find a roll of detonating cord. They lean on Armstrong and he tells them exactly where the first bucket of dynamite is located. They say a second bucket was dumped into an area lake and a search for that dynamite will take place within the week. Katzenstein, meanwhile, tells deputies the group tried to sell the explosives to Middle Eastern terrorists, but the deal fell through.
Creek Co Chief Deputy Michael O'Keefe says "There was some attempts to sell it, but to my knowledge we don't think any quantity of it was sold." Investigators say there are at least six men involved with the theft and conspiracy to sell the explosives. Four will be charged, including Katzenstein and Armstrong. Two will likely serve as witnesses against the other men. There were also several drug lab arrests that came out of this investigation.
Mossman talked with an independent explosives expert who said one pound of Dynamite could kill a person. The amount detonated Thursday could easily destroy a car or a small house.