A former Navy sailor is suspected of sending ricin-laced packages to the Pentagon, and new reports have emerged that such a package was also sent to President Donald Trump.
What are the details?
According to a Fox News report Wednesday, the packages contained a return address that led officials to believe that the unidentified Navy sailor was behind the poisonous parcels.
Officials said that a tip from the White House led the Pentagon to discover the packages, which initially tested positive for ricin.
The U.S. Secret Service said that it also received a “suspicious envelope,” which was addressed to Trump, but that the package never made it to the White House. The Secret Service did not provide further comment, and instead noted that it was “working jointly with our law enforcement partners to fully investigate this matter.”
CNN reported that officials believed the packages at the Pentagon and the package intended for Trump appeared to be connected.
A spokesperson for the Secret Service told CNN that it can “confirm receipt of a suspicious envelope addressed to the president on Oct. 1, 2018.”
What’s the background?
The packages never made their way into the Pentagon. Officials discovered the questionable packages during mail screening at a building next door Monday and turned the packages over to the FBI for forensic analysis.
The packages in question were addressed to Defense Secretary James Mattis and Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations.
Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesperson, confirmed the incident in a Tuesday statement.
“On Monday, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency detected a suspicious substance during mail screening at the Pentagon’s remote screening facility,” Manning said in an official statement. “The envelopes were taken by the FBI this morning for further analysis.”
The FBI also issued a statement, confirming that it had taken possession of the parcels that tested positive for the deadly substance: “On Tuesday, October 2, 2018, 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.”
What is ricin?
Ricin is a naturally occurring toxic compound and can be made from castor beans, which can then be turned into powder, according to CNN. Ricin has often been used in terror plots.
Ricin, if ingested, can cause nausea, vomiting, and internal bleeding of the digestive system. The hepatic system can also fail, and the person affected by the toxic compound can die from circulatory system collapse.