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N.Y. chemicals were to be resold on Internet, police say

  • Story Highlights
  • Potassium nitrate, other chemicals, intended to be sold in small quantities
  • Potassium nitrate used in gunpowder but also has many legitimate uses
  • No major laws broken or terror-related activities, man cooperating
  • Area round his Staten Island home was cordoned off
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- A man who stored nearly 1,500 pounds of potassium nitrate and other chemicals in his Staten Island home and a nearby storage facility was charged with reckless endangerment Friday, according to the New York City Police Department.

Police said Miguel Serrano, 57, had bought the chemicals in bulk from an Ohio-based dealer and was intending to resell them in smaller quantities on the Internet. It was the dealer who tipped off the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after Serrano had ordered 5,000 pounds of potassium nitrate, according to a police report.

According to New York Police Sgt. Kevin Hayes, authorities found less than a thousand pounds of chemicals in the home, including potassium nitrate, sulfur, mercury, and peroxide. At the off-site storage facility, authorities found about 1,500 pounds of chemicals, mainly potassium nitrate.

Late Thursday night, several residential blocks were cordoned off and a few dozen homes were evacuated in Staten Island as police searched Serrano's home and a nearby commercial storage facility.

The NYPD's Paul Brown said there is no indication the chemicals were being used for bomb-making or anything terror-related. According to Brown, the man was buying the chemicals in bulk and reselling them on the Internet.

Potassium nitrate can be used to make gunpowder and rocket fuel or to clean septic tanks. It can also be used to cure meats.

Police said Serrano has been cooperating with investigators.

ATF officials said no violations of federal explosives laws were discovered, but added that chemical-storage rules may have been violated.

Small quantities of hydrogen peroxide, potassium permanganate, elemental mercury, iodine, sulfur, ammonium dichromate, and aluminum powder were also recovered during the raid, police said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

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