A letter containing the poison ricin and addressed to President Donald Trump was intercepted by law enforcement officers earlier this week. Letters containing the poison were also sent to local law enforcement agencies in Texas. The letters are believed to have come from Canada, and investigators have identified a woman as a possible suspect, according to the New York Times.
The envelope that was addressed to the White House was set aside at the final processing facility where mail is screened before going to the White House mailroom. Two tests were carried out to confirm the presence of ricin, reports CNN. “The FBI and our U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Postal Inspection Service partners are investigating a suspicious letter received at a U.S. government mail facility,” the FBI said in a statement. “At this time, there is no known threat to public safety.”
Canadian officials also said they were aware of the ongoing investigation. “We are aware of the concerning reports of packages containing ricin directed toward US federal government sites. Canadian law enforcement is working closely with their US counterparts,” Mary-Liz Power, chief spokeswoman for Canada’s minister of public safety, Bill Blair, said in a statement. “As this is an active investigation we cannot comment further.”
Ricin is a deadly poison that comes from castor beans and has no known antidote. “Ricin is very toxic,” says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “It works by getting inside the cells of a person’s body and preventing the cells from making the proteins they need. Without the proteins, cells die. Eventually this is harmful to the whole body, and may cause death.” Ricin could “potentially be used as a biological weapon,” according to the Mayo Clinic. This is not the first time ricin was thought to have been sent to government officials. In 2018, several letters addressed to top Defense Department officials were thought to contain ricin. It was later determined the letters contained castor seeds. A Navy veteran was charged, and his case is still pending.