The FBI is leading an investigation into a letter sent to the White House that was believed to contain the poison ricin. Initial information indicated the letter originated in Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said.
“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 said in a statement. “At this time, there is no known threat to public safety.”
The RCMP, which is working with the FBI on the investigation, said the FBI conducted an analysis on the substance found in the envelope. This report indicated the presence of ricin.
Ricin is naturally found in castor beans, but it can be made into a poison from the waste “mash” produced when castor oil is made. It takes a deliberate act to make it into a poison, and no known antidote exists. Death from ricin poisoning can occur within 36 to 72 hours of exposure, depending on the route of exposure (inhalation, ingestion, or injection) and the dose received. If death has not occurred in 3 to 5 days, the victim usually recovers.
There have been several incidents in recent years involving ricin being sent through the mail. In 2018, Navy veteran William Clyde Allen III was arrested for mailing letters containing castor seeds to the White House and the Pentagon. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if castor seeds are swallowed, ricin can be released and cause injury.