Packages Containing Ricin Sent to White House, Pentagon by Former Navy Sailor: Report

October 3, 2018 Updated: October 3, 2018

The packages containing a suspicious substance that later tested positive for the poison ricin were sent by a former U.S. Navy sailor, according to a report on Oct. 3.

The packages intercepted on Oct. 2 were addressed to President Donald Trump at the White House, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, at the Pentagon, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

Two people at Cruz’s office in Houston, Texas were hospitalized after being exposed, according to the Houston Fire Department, which was working to determine the nature of the “white powdery substance.” The FBI’s Houston office said late Tuesday that lab results indicated no hazardous substance in the package sent to Cruz’s office.

Pentagon officials said that it detected the suspicious substance during mail screening at a remote facility while the FBI said it was conducting further testing on the packages sent to the Pentagon and White House.

“In coordination with the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, 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. As this is ongoing, we will have no further comment,” the FBI said.

Former Navy Sailor

Anonymous officials told Fox News that the packages sent to the White House, Pentagon, and Cruz were coordinated by a former Navy sailor who has not been identified.

One of the envelopes addressed to the Pentagon contained a return address that led investigators to the sailor.

No other reports appear to provide any description a suspect or suspects as of Wednesday afternoon.

A Department of Defense official told the Military Times that the Pentagon was aware of the reports that the sender was potentially a former service member but declined to comment.

Ricin and Castor Beans

Ricin is a poison that is made from castor beans. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ricin “can be in the form of a powder, a mist, or a pellet, or it can be dissolved in water or weak acid.”

While initial reports indicated the packages tested positive for ricin, a Defense Department spokeswoman said on Wednesday that a preliminary analysis indicated the presence of castor beans but not the poison in a finished form.

“According to our preliminary analysis, the substance was castor seeds, from which ricin is derived. The FBI is still investigating,” Dana White, the spokeswoman, said in a statement sent to The Hill.

Swallowing castor seeds can cause injury or worse due to the released ricin, according to the CDC.


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