Topeka, Kan. - A man was charged in federal court after threatening to contaminate the public water supplies of Topeka and three other cities.
Manuel Garcia, 69, of Kansas City, was charged in a federal criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo. Garcia was arrested Friday and remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing.
United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri in Kansas City says Garcia attempted to extort money from the FBI related to a threat to contaminate the public water supplies of Kansas City, Missouri, St. Louis, Wichita and Topeka.
"I want to assure the community that our water supply is safe," US Attorney Tammy Dickinson said. "We don't believe there was ever a credible threat to public health and safety. There is no evidence that anyone actually possessed any chemicals to contaminate public water supplies. The chemicals were as fictional as the conspirators in this imaginary plot."
According to an affidavit filed in support of today's federal criminal complaint, Garcia made several telephone calls in which he claimed there was a threat to contaminate the public water supply of Kansas City, St. Louis, Wichita and Topeka. An FBI agent recognized Garcia's voice on the phone calls, and agents contacted Garcia on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013.
Garcia told the federal agents that two of his acquaintances, named Raul and Shariff, were going to carry out the plan to put an unknown chemical into the water supply of the four cities. They had tested their plan out on some horses, Garcia said, and the animals went into convulsions and died. Garcia stated that for $10,000 and a grant of immunity he would attempt to locate Raul and Shariff.
The affidavit alleges that Garcia called the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department 9-1-1 Emergency Tips Hotline on Oct. 15, 2013. Garcia allegedly claimed that the water supplies of Kansas City, St. Louis, Wichita, and Topeka, Kansas would be contaminated in the next 10-15 days with an unknown substance contained in four 55-gallon tanks. The 9-1-1 operator asked about an officer returning the call and Garcia hung up.
On the same day, the affidavit says, Garcia called the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Joint Support Operations Center in Washington, D.C., with the same threat.
Garcia allegedly called the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department 9-1-1 Emergency Tips Hotline again on Oct. 22, 2013.
An FBI agent recognized Garcia's voice on all three phone calls, the affidavit says. Garcia's residence is close to the exact location the cellular tower system identified as the vicinity from which one of the calls originated.
Dickinson cautioned that the charge contained in this complaint is simply an accusation, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charge must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Casey. It was investigated by the FBI.