WASHINGTON – Letters sent to the White House and federal agencies in Texas in the past few days have contained the deadly substance ricin, and investigators are trying to determine if other envelopes containing the toxin have been mailed, a law enforcement officer brought up on the matter said on Saturday.
Investigators believe the letters were sent from Canada and identified a woman as a suspect, the official said.
The White House letter addressed to President Trump was intercepted, as were the letters to the federal offices in Texas. On Saturday it was not immediately clear which federal agencies were being targeted.
Ricin, which is part of the waste created in making castor oil, has no known antidote.
“The FBI and our partners in US intelligence and the US Postal Inspection Service are investigating a suspicious letter that has arrived in a US government mail room,” the FBI said in a statement. “There is currently no known public safety threat.”
In 2018, William Clyde Allen, a Navy veteran, was charged in a seven-count indictment of attempting to send envelopes containing ricin to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Send John M. Richardson, the FBI director. Christopher A. Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel, and Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson.
Officials found that Mr. Allen sent castor beans instead of ricin. His case is still pending.
In 2011, four Georgia men were arrested and later sentenced to prison terms for planning to spread the poison in five American cities at the same time. That same year, American counter-terrorism officials said they were increasingly pursuing the possibility that al-Qaeda might use ricin in attacks against the United States.
Two years later, a Mississippi man sent letters containing ricin to President Barack Obama and a Republican senator accusing a rival. The letters were intercepted in sorting systems.
In 2014, actress Shannon Richardson was sentenced to 18 years in prison for mailing letters containing ricin to several people in May 2013, including Obama and Michael R. Bloomberg, then Mayor of New York.
This is a developing story. Check for updates again.
Adam Goldman and Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed to the coverage.