A woman was arrested for allegedly sending an envelope with the poison ricin to the White House last week, law enforcement sources told the Associated Press Sunday. The woman, whose name has not been released, was arrested by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers at the New York-Canada border near Buffalo. She is expected to face federal charges soon and the investigation is ongoing.
Canadian authorities said the letter appears to have originated from there. It was found at a government facility that screens all mail addressed to President Donald Trump and the White House. The preliminary investigation found the letter tested positive for ricin, the officials told the Associated Press. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case remains under investigation. Another source close to the investigation told CNN the letter was mailed from St. Hubert, Quebec.
"We are aware of the concerning reports of packages containing ricin directed toward US federal government sites," Mary-Liz Power, a chief spokeswoman for the Canadian Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair, said in a statement to CNN. "Canadian law enforcement is working closely with their US counterparts. As this is an active investigation we cannot comment further." The Secret Service and FBI are also investigating the letter. One law enforcement official said American authorities are investigating similar packages mailed from Texas that may be connected to the Canadian sender.
"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," the FBI told CNN in a statement. "At this time, there is no known threat to public safety."
Ricin is a dangerous, poisonous compound from castor beans that has been used in several terror plots in the past. In 2018, a Navy veteran confessed to sending envelopes with ricin to Trump and his administration. The letters were intercepted and no one was hurt. In 2014, a Mississippi man was convicted and sentenced to 25 years behind bars for sending letters with ricin to President Barack Obama.
If ricin is ingested, it can cause nausea, vomiting and internal bleeding of the stomach and intestines. It can also cause liver, spleen, and kidney failure, and death from the collapse of the circulatory system. Just 500 micrograms can kill an adult and there is no test for exposure or antidote if someone for someone exposed.