A Canadian man pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal terrorism charge for plotting to blow up the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline in 2000.
Prosecutors say Alfred Heinz Reumayr wanted to drive up the price of oil in order to profit from the sale of oil and gas futures he had planned to purchase. The plot was broken up after a co-conspirator went to federal authorities.
Reumayr, 58, of New Westminster, British Columbia, pleaded guilty to one count of terrorism transcending national boundaries in an agreement with prosecutors accepted Thursday by U.S. District Judge Bruce Black. He faces 13 years in prison; his lawyer said the sentencing hearing could be held this summer.
Prosecutors say Reumayr planned a series of explosions along the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System in early January 2000 aimed at disrupting the oil supply from northern to southern Alaska.
Had it been successful, it would have had "an enormous negative economic and environmental impact on the United States and Canada," said William Newell, special agent in charge of the Phoenix field division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Explosives expert became informant
Authorities said Reumayr sought help with the scheme from a former Green Beret and explosives expert with whom he had served time in a Texas prison. Jim Paxton of Albuquerque — who is now dead — went to the ATF and became an informant.
He and Reumayr corresponded by e-mail, using an informal code in which they discussed a fishing trip.
Paxton testified in a 2001 extradition hearing in British Columbia that Reumayr wanted the explosions to coincide with Jan. 1, 2000, to capitalize on fears of computer failures.
Reumayr has been in custody since August 1999 and was indicted on eight counts. He lost his fight against extradition to the U.S. in 2006, when the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed his appeal.
Reumayr's lawyer, Mark Donatelli, told the judge that the plea agreement was reasonable "given the evidence in this case."
Donatelli said in an interview that Reumayr "never had the ability to put together the explosives."
"The guy with the brain power and the wherewithal to carry out the explosion part of the scheme was at all times an ATF informant," Donatelli said.
"Al repeatedly said, 'I don't want anybody hurt,'" the lawyer added.