Suspect arrested in connection with ricin letter addressed to White House

WASHINGTON: Authorities have arrested a person suspected of sending the deadly poison ricin in an envelope addressed to the White House but intercepted before it could be delivered there, a law enforcement source said on Sunday (Sep 20).

In response to a Reuters query seeking confirmation of media reports that a woman accused of mailing the ricin-tainted letter had been taken into custody at the US.-Canadian border, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) field office in Washington issued a statement saying: “An arrest was made of an individual allegedly responsible for sending a suspicious letter."

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The statement added: "The investigation is ongoing."

The law enforcement source, familiar with the case but speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the "suspicious letter" referred to in the FBI statement was the same as the envelope found to have contained ricin.

The source also said the person arrested was a woman of Canadian citizenship.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said on Saturday that it had received a request for assistance from the FBI in the investigation and that the suspicious letter in question appeared to have been sent from Canada.

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Canadian police further stated that an FBI analysis of a substance inside the envelope detected "the presence of ricin", a highly toxic agent derived from castor beans.

While naturally occurring, the toxin requires a deliberate act to convert it into a biological weapon, with exposure to an amount as small as a pinhead capable of causing death within 36 to 72 hours. No known antidote exists.

Initially asked about the incident on Saturday, the FBI said it had joined the US Secret Service and the US Postal Inspection Service in the investigation of "a suspicious letter received at a US government mail facility".Read More – Source