A letter addressed to Donald Trump at the White House and containing the deadly poison ricin was mailed from Canada, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
NBC News is reporting that several other letters containing ricin were also intercepted at different facilities. It appears some of the letters were addressed to a Texas detention facility and sheriff’s office. Only one was addressed to a political figure.
#FBIStatement: "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. At this time, there is no known threat to public safety." pic.twitter.com/jsBMIsDHbt
— FBI Washington Field (@FBIWFO) September 19, 2020
Business Insider reports that the FBI has identified a female suspect. The FBI did not elaborate further.
The Joint Terrorism Task Force in Washington is taking charge of the investigation with help from New York and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
No links have been found between the poisonous letter and any international terrorist organizations, investigators said. They declined to elaborate on what evidence they had that pointed them to the female suspect.
However, officials have said that the investigation is still in its early stages, and nothing has yet been ruled out.
This isn’t the first time Trump has been targeted with a ricin attack. It happened in 2018.
A Navy veteran was charged for attempting to send envelopes with ricin to multiple US officials in 2018. William Clyde Allen’s case is still pending because officials found he had sent castor beans instead of ricin powder.
Former President Barack Obama was also the target of a ricin attack.
In 2013, actor Shannon Richardson was sentenced to 18 years in federal prison for mailing letter laced with ricin to Obama and Michael Bloomberg, then the mayor of New York.
Ricin is relatively easy to make — if you know what you’re doing. There are many websites that purport to show you how to make the poison but experts say it’s a lot harder than that.
The question has arisen as to whether a person could learn to make ricin from information freely available on the internet. I’m not going to give you a definitive ‘no’ since I didn’t follow every single link on the subject, but I will say the top links that supposedly tell you how to purify ricin using lye and acetone contain many factual errors. Probably the only good advice given in the instructions is to remove the coat from the seeds. Also, any website that tells you ricin can be obtained from castor oil is wrong. Castor oil is essentially free [of] the toxin. If you are a terrorist or looking to purify the toxin for other purposes, you’re a stupid terrorist if you think instructions posted on the web by an anonymous source are reliable or that duplicating erroneous instructions across multiple websites magically makes the instructions correct.
We don’t know if the ricin sent to the president was of the homemade variety or something more deadly. That someone went to all the trouble of making it and then mailing it is worrying, but the safeguards put in place after the 2001 mail attacks on congress and the White House appear to be working.