Four McKenzie County men arrested for stealing crude oil

Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 12:01 PM CDT
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WATFORD CITY, N.D. (KUMV) - Four men have been arrested for stealing crude oil from their employer and selling it for a profit.

Michael Garcia, Joseph Vandewalker, Darrell Merrell, and Mark McGregor have all been charged with conspiracy to commit theft, a Class A Felony and dealing with stolen property, a Class B Felony. Garcia also faces a charge of leading a criminal association.

Court documents say Merrell and Vandewalker would skim oil by manipulating the barrel counter while offloading, then deliver the leftover material to frack tanks south of Watford City. McGregor oversaw handling transportation and housing of the stolen oil, which would be sold to a marketer by Garcia. Court documents claim Garcia serves as the financial link between the producers and the drivers.

There have been at least 149 deliveries made from the stolen oil disposal site from November 2020 to March 2022 according to officials with Crestwood Midstream. A total of 34,199 barrels were delivered during that period, adding up to more than $2.4 million.

A preliminary hearing for Merrell is scheduled for July 7, while hearings for Vandewalker and McGregor were continued to September.

Garcia waived his hearing.

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