Woman Suspected of Sending Ricin-Filled Envelope to White House to Appear in Court

Woman Suspected of Sending Ricin-Filled Envelope to White House to Appear in Court
Police investigators walk past a condo building related to an investigation into the ricin-filled envelope sent to the White House, as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives team checks the area in Longueuil, Quebec, Canada on Sept. 21, 2020. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

A woman arrested by U.S. authorities on suspicion of mailing ricin-filled envelopes to President Donald Trump and to six individuals in Texas was due to appear before a federal judge in Buffalo, New York, on Tuesday.

The suspect, identified in court documents as Pascale Cecile Veronique Ferrier, 53, a resident of Canada's Quebec province, was charged with making threats against the president of the United States.

The envelope addressed to Trump was intercepted on Friday at the White House mail sorting facility in Washington, where U.S. Postal Service personnel flagged it as suspicious and contacted the FBI, according to an FBI affidavit filed with the charging documents.

Government laboratory analysis of a white powdery substance contained in the envelope found it tested positive for the highly toxic poison ricin, the affidavit said.

The affidavit also said that the letter contained a message to Trump that read, in part: "I found a new name for you: 'The Ugly Tyrant Clown.' I hope you like it. You ruin [sic] USA and lead them to disaster."

The message referred to the poison in the envelope as a "special gift," adding that if it didn't work, the sender might find a "better recipe for another poison" or resort to using a gun, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit accuses Ferrier of mailing six similar letters from Canada to Texas addressed to individuals working at prisons or detention centers where she had been incarcerated in 2019. It was not clear from the court documents whether any of those envelopes reached their intended destination. Ferrier was not charged in connection with them.

U.S. authorities arrested Ferrier on the Canada-U.S. border on Sunday, at the so-called Peace Bridge that runs between Fort Erie, Ontario, and Buffalo. According to the FBI affidavit, she told U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers that she was "wanted by the FBI for the ricin letters," and was found to be carrying a loaded firearm in her waistband, as well as a knife.

Canadian police on Monday searched an apartment in a Montreal suburb linked to the suspect. She has joint Canadian and French citizenship, two sources said.

She was due to make her initial court appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr. at 4 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT).

So far no evidence that she is linked to political, or extremist groups have been uncovered, law enforcement sources said.

Ricin is found naturally in castor beans, and turning it into a biological weapon would take a deliberate act. Ricin can cause death within 36 to 72 hours from exposure to an amount as small as a pinhead. No known antidote exists to reverse its toxic effects.

By Christinne Muschi in Longueuil, Steve Scherer in Ottawa, Mark Hosenball and Sarah N. Lynch in Washington and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa