2 packages with suspected poison sent to Pentagon, Navy chief

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WASHINGTON (CBS News) — Authorities at a Pentagon mail screening facility found two envelopes suspected of containing ricin, a poison made from castor beans, and turned them over to the FBI for further analysis, authorities said Tuesday. Officials said they discovered the packages on Monday and neither of them entered the Pentagon.

One envelope was addressed to Defense Secretary James Mattis, who is traveling in Europe this week, and the other to the Navy’s top officer, Adm. John Richardson, a defense official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly ahead of FBI release of its findings.

The mail screening facility is on the Pentagon grounds but separate from the main building.

All U.S. Postal Service mail received at the screening facility on Monday is under quarantine and “poses no threat to Pentagon personnel,” Pentagon spokesperson Col. Rob Manning said.

Ricin is part of the waste “mash” produced when castor oil is made. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if it is made into a partially purified material or refined, ricin can be used as a weapon capable of causing death under certain circumstances.

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