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Navy veteran suspected of sending poison packages to Pentagon, White House

Airman 1st Class David Kerscher, an Emergency Management technician, tests powder samples of an unknown white powder during a suspicious package exercise in the official mail center at the 180th Fighter Wing, Toledo, Ohio, December 11, 2012. (Staff Sgt. Amber Williams/U.S. Air Force)
October 03, 2018

Officials have located the person believed to be behind the suspicious packages sent to the Pentagon, White House, and Sen. Ted Cruz’s office this week.

One of the envelopes sent to the Pentagon contained a return address belonging to a former sailor who has not yet been identified, investigators told Fox News on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, officials revealed that two suspicious envelopes had been identified by the mail screening center on the Pentagon campus. The items never entered the Pentagon, but were addressed to Defense Secretary James Mattis and to Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson. Officials initially said the items tested positive for ricin.

Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White told reporters that the substance was ultimately identified as castor seeds – the seeds from which ricin is derived – and not ricin itself.

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Pentagon officials notified the White House, which led the Secret Service to discover a third envelope addressed to President Trump in the incoming White House mail. The Secret Service said the envelope “was not received at the White House, nor did it ever enter the White House.” The agency said they were working with other authorities to investigate the incident.

“On Monday, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency detected a suspicious substance during mail screening at the Pentagon’s remote screening facility,” Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning told Fox News. “All USPS mail received at the Pentagon mail screening facility yesterday is currently under quarantine and poses no threat to Pentagon personnel.”

The envelopes were taken by the FBI for further analysis.

“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,” the FBI said in a statement.

A fourth package arrived at the Houston office of Sen. Ted Cruz. Two people exposed to an unknown “white powdery substance” were sent to the hospital as a precaution. Tests later showed that the substance was not hazardous.

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Ricin is a poisonous substance found naturally in castor bean waste after extraction for castor oil. Ingestion of ricin can lead to internal bleeding and organ failure. It has been used in past terror attacks due to its high toxicity, ease of manufacture, and ease of use due to coming in forms from powder to mist.