A ricin package addressed to President Donald Trump was intercepted by law enforcement this week. At this time, a suspect is not known, but authorities said they believe it was sent from Canada.
Here’s what you need to know.
The Ricin Envelope Was Addressed to Trump & Sent from Canada
#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
The ricin package had been intercepted by law enforcement before reaching Trump, CNN reported. It was sent earlier this week and tests just confirmed that the package had ricin. While CNN reported it as a package addressed to Trump, The New York Times reported that ricin was detected on an envelope addressed to the White House. It was intercepted before it reached the White House mail room.
The package is being investigated by the FBI and the Secret Service, but more details have not yet been released. It’s not known who sent the package, but an official told The New York Times that it was sent from Canada.
In a statement, the FBI Washington Field Office said on Twitter: “he 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.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, ricin is a poison made from the waste left after processing castor beans. Symptoms of ricin poisoning vary depending on if it was inhaled or ingested. A small amount can be fatal.
Ricin Has Been Sent to White House Officials Before
This isn’t the first time ricin has been used to poison mail in the United States.
In 2018, William Clyde Allen III was arrested in connection with ricin detected on mail sent to government officials in October 2018. Two envelopes were sent to the Pentagon, with top military officials as the intended targets, including then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis and to Adm. John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations. Another suspicious envelope was sent to Trump and two to Ted Cruz’s campaign headquarters. A federal grand jury returned a seven-count indictment on October 18, 2018, charging Allen in connection with the threats.
In May 2013, anonymous letters were sent to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg with traces of ricin on them. A letter was also sent to Mark Glaze, who was then the director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns in Washington, D.C. A letter was also sent to President Barack Obama.
Shannon Richardson was charged with the crime and pleaded guilty. She was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Richardson lived in New Boston, Texas, when the letters were sent. They had low concentrations of ricin and were discovered before there were any injuries or fatalities. The letters read: “You will have to kill me and my family before you get my guns. The right to bear arms is my constitutional God-given right. What’s in this letter is nothing compared to what I’ve got planned for you.”
Richardson had minor roles on shows like The Walking Dead and The Vampire Diaries. She originally blamed her husband, but didn’t pass a polygraph. Her computers had texts of the letters, and her husband was at work when the letters were printed. She then claimed that she mailed the letters because her husband forced her to do so. Her husband denied her allegations.