Thu, Oct 04, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Ricin suspected in mail sent to Trump and the Pentagon

FURTHER TESTING:The FBI has taken possession of the packages, which never entered the White House, as they were quarantined at a Pentagon facility

AFP, WASHINGTON

US Department of Defense personnel, wearing protective suits, screen mail as it arrives at the Pentagon in Washington on Tuesday.

Photo: AFP

Mail addressed to US President Donald Trump and the Pentagon was suspected of containing the deadly poison ricin, officials said on Tuesday.

The US Secret Service said it had obtained a “suspicious envelope” addressed to Trump on Monday, the same day at least two suspicious packages were intercepted at a screening center for Pentagon mail, a US Department of Defense spokesman said.

“The envelope was not received at the White House, nor did it ever enter the White House,” the US Secret Service said. “We can confirm that we are working jointly with our law enforcement partners to fully investigate this matter.”

Pentagon spokesman Chris Sherwood said that authorities at its screening site “recognized some suspicious packages.”

The authorities were still waiting for confirmation that the packages contained ricin, he said.

The Pentagon has referred the matter to the FBI for investigation.

The packages were addressed to US Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chief of US Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson, a defense official said.

While located on the Pentagon campus, the mail facility is not within the main building itself. Employees wear white protective suits to examine mail suspected of containing ricin, which has been used in terror plots.

The White House and Pentagon pieces of mail were likely linked and contained a crude substance made from castor bean that authorities were not technically calling “ricin” until further testing, CNN reported, citing a source familiar with the joint federal investigation.

Produced by processing castor beans, ricin is lethal in minute doses if swallowed, inhaled or injected. It has no antidote and is 6,000 times more potent than cyanide.

Highly toxic, it can cause nausea, vomiting, internal bleeding and difficulty breathing, leading to death from organ failure or the collapse of the circulatory system.

“FBI special agents took possession of two suspicious envelopes that had been screened at the Pentagon mail facility. Those envelopes are currently undergoing further testing,” the FBI said in a statement.

All mail received at the Pentagon’s screening facility on Monday was “placed under quarantine and poses no threat to Pentagon personnel,” US Department of Defense spokesman Rob Manning said.

Earlier, two people were hospitalized in Houston, Texas, after being exposed to a white powdery substance found in letters addressed to US Senator Ted Cruz, US media reported.

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