(Reuters) - The San Francisco public relations consultant who was arrested for having bomb-making materials in his apartment had sought toxins on an Internet black market for dangerous materials, according to court documents unsealed on Friday.
A search warrant affidavit, which allowed the raid of 42-year-old Ryan Kelly Chamberlain’s apartment and his subsequent arrest on Monday, was unsealed in a San Francisco federal court. The document provided new details into the months-long investigation leading up to his capture.
Chamberlain’s attorney could not be reached immediately for comment about the affidavit
The document, written by FBI agent Michael Eldridge, said Chamberlain purchased a precursor to abrin - a biological toxin - and pure nicotine through an online marketplace called Black Market Reloaded. He also attempted to purchase ricin before balking at its steep price, it said.
In May, agents questioned a Black Market vendor of toxins, improvised explosives and guns from Sacramento who told agents that he had done business with Chamberlain. The seller said Chamberlain asked for samples of pure abrin to help ease the suffering of cancer patients, according to the affidavit.
The vendor instead sold him two clear vials of ground rosary peas, which can be converted into abrin, the affidavit said. The vials contained enough peas to create hundreds of lethal doses of the toxin.
Small doses of abrin can cause difficulty breathing, vomiting and even death within two days of being inhaled and there is no known antidote for poisoning, the document said.
In January, agents interviewed a separate Florida-based seller who had been arrested for producing and selling ricin and abrin over the web. The seller said he had sent 200 milligrams of pure nicotine to Chamberlain, according to the affidavit.
Pure nicotine - as opposed to the kind used in cigarettes - is also a potentially lethal poison when exposed to the skin, ingested or inhaled in sufficient quantities, the document said.
Reporting by Curtis Skinner; Editing by Paul Tait