SF man charged in bomb case allegedly bought lethal substances online 

click to enlarge A bomb squad technician removes items from Ryan Chamberlain II’s vehicle in the Crissy Field parking lot after Chamberlain’s arrest. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • A bomb squad technician removes items from Ryan Chamberlain II’s vehicle in the Crissy Field parking lot after Chamberlain’s arrest.

A San Francisco man arrested Monday night and charged with possessing bomb-making materials was using anonymous Internet sites last year to purchase illegal, and potentially fatal, toxins, according to an FBI search warrant unsealed today.

Ryan Kelly Chamberlain II has been charged with having bomb-making materials, although there is no mention in the search warrant of any such materials.

A joint federal investigation into an anonymous Internet marketplace led to Chamberlain when a witness brought a vial of white powder to the New York City police in February. That person said they had purchased cyanide and abrin -- both lethal toxic substances -- online in order to commit suicide, according to the warrant.

That led authorities to an individual in California who had sent those toxins to New York City. That same individual had sent a package to Chamberlain dated Dec. 5, 2013.

The seller, who was arrested on suspicion of firearms and explosives offenses in Sacramento on May 5, said he had sent Chamberlain a package and communicated with him online.

In those messages, Chamberlain said he had tried to buy ricin, a lethal toxin, but it was too expensive.

The FBI has said reports that ricin was found in his apartment were false.

Chamberlain also asked about abrin, another toxin. Specifically, he asked about dosing size and whether an autopsy could show that it had been used to kill a person.

"The initial purchase of abrin would be a trial run, and if it was successful, [Chamberlain] would use the abrin on a larger scale," noted the warrant.

A vial was sent to Chamberlain from that same person, but it only contained ground rosary peas, which must further be processed to make abrin, according to the warrant.

Sometime after the December shipment, Chamberlain contacted the Sacramento seller and complained that the abrin didn't work.

Chamberlain contacted a third individual in Florida through the Internet to buy pure nicotine, another lethal toxin. Federal authorities learned of these details when they arrested that individual Jan. 18. The individual said a vial containing 140 to 200 milligrams of liquid nicotine was sent to Chamberlain in June 2013.

The warrant also mentions that Chamberlain was arrested on felony charges on two separate occasions, in 2003 and 2009. Both cases were dismissed. In 2003, he was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon or force likely to produce great bodily injury and child cruelty. And in 2009, he was arrested on charges of battery and injury of a child.

Correction: This story was updated June 11 to correct the spelling of abrin.

About The Author

Jonah Owen Lamb

Jonah Owen Lamb

Born and raised on a houseboat in Sausalito, Lamb has written for newspapers in New York City, Utah and the San Joaquin Valley. He was most recently an editor at the San Luis Obispo Tribune for nearly three years. He has written for The S.F. Examiner since 2013 and covers criminal justice and planning.
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