(A fire burns by a barricade during police action against water protectors on Oct. 27, 2016, in North Dakota near the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Photo: Dennis Ward/APTN)
APTN National News
U.S. federal authorities used information provided by Dakota Access Pipeline LLC (DAPL) to build a federal indictment against five anti-pipeline demonstrators—known as water protectors—which was unsealed Thursday, court records show.
Agents with the F.B.I and the Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agency have been actively involved in investigating the actions of water protectors trying to stop the four-state Dakota Access Pipeline which is being constructed by a subsidiary of Houston-based Energy Transfer Partners, the court record shows.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave the pipeline company permission to drill beneath Lake Oahe this week. Lake Oahe is a reservoir on the Missouri River from where the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe draws its water.
Also Thursday, The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe filed for a temporary restraining order and injunction with the U.S. Federal Court in Washington D.C. to stop drilling beneath Lake Oahe on grounds it would defile the sacred waters of the Missouri River. A hearing on the filing is scheduled for Monday.
Christopher Myers, the U.S. Attorney for the North Dakota District, announced the unsealing of an indictment against five men for their alleged in involvement in igniting barricades on Oct. 27, 2016, to slow down a sweep by law enforcement against a camp set up by water protectors.
According to an affidavit filed by ATF Special Agent Derek Hill, a number of digital photos used to identify the five indicted men came from the pipeline company. Hill said in the affidavit that a DAPL helicopter was monitoring events and captured demonstrators setting fire to the barricades on a bridge along County Road 134. Hill said “a passenger in the helicopter was utilizing a digital camera to document the operation.”
Hill does not reveal who the passenger was in the helicopter or the relationship with DAPL. It has since emerged that a security contractor working for DAPL had at least one employee in the field that day who ended up in an armed confrontation with water protectors.
According to Hill’s affidavit, the first of the five indicted men arrested was Michael “Rattler” Markus. Hill stated Markus was linked to the flaming barricades by through ownership records of a silver van captured in the photos taken by the pipeline company. Hill stated Markus’ identity was confirmed by comparing social media photos with the aerial pictures.
Hill stated Markus was initially jailed on Jan. 12 and he allegedly admitted to “pouring the gasoline on the barricades and pouring gasoline in an attempt to connect the barricades once they were ignited.”
Hill stated Markus denied actually setting the fires. He was also shown photos of other individuals there that day, the affidavit does not state whether Markus helped identify his co-accused.
A second man, James “Angry Bird” White was arrested on Wednesday. Three other men, Brennon “Bravo One” Nastacio, 36, Brandon Aaron Miller-Castillo, 22, and Dion Ortiz, 20, are wanted on federal warrants and U.S. Marshals are now on their trail.
APTN could not reach Miller-Castillo or Ortiz.
Nastacio’s partner, Samantha Magdaleno, said in a telephone interview he planned to turn himself in on Monday.
Magdaleno said Nastacio, originally from San Felipe Pueblo, New Mexico, is currently hiding in a “safe place” at an undisclosed location.
“He went out there with the intent of protecting his people,” she said. “He is in total disbelief and shock that they would take it this far for saving lives.”
Magdaleno, who is in graduate school at Wayne State University, said Nastacio’s legal troubles are weighing heavily on her.
“It is really difficult, I am actually in school and it’s hard not being able to be with him,” said Magdaleno, an immigrant rights activist who faced a federal indictment in the past as a result of a sit-in at a federal office. “I want him back home. I don’t want him over there any more having to deal with this stuff.”
Magdaleno said Nastacio found out he was wanted on a federal indictment after seeing a report on Facebook.
“At this moment we are not really clear about anything. We didn’t know about the warrant until it started circulating on Facebook,” she said. “They haven’t really told us about anything. He wanted to turn himself in as soon as possible.”
This is the second time Nastacio has found himself as a wanted man. Last December, North Dakota state authorities issued a warrant for his arrest for bringing a knife to a gun fight. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department charged him with “terrorizing” for allegedly brandishing a knife in a confrontation with Kyle Thompson, a security contractor wielding an assault rifle on Oct. 27, 2016.
Thompson was working for Knightsbridge Risk Management, a private security firm with a Springfield, Ohio, address which appears to have been hired by DAPL, according to identification and documents recovered that day.
Thompson was run off the road by water protectors during that chaotic day of law enforcement action. He emerged from a DAPL-owned truck wearing a red kerchief over his face and carrying an assault rifle. He was confronted by Nastacio and several other men, according to images captured by an APTN camera.
Thompson was eventually detained by Bureau of Indian Affairs agents who turned him over to the FBI. The FBI turned him over to state authorities who released him without charges.
Nastacio is scheduled to appear in state court on Tuesday to face the terrorizing charge.