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Ricin toxin sent to Secretary Mattis and Navy CNO Richardson in mail packages

Edward Lutz of the Official Mail Center pitches and sorts official mail parcel into the proper mailboxes March 21 at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. (Airman 1st Class Jonathan Snyder/U.S. Air Force)
October 02, 2018

Pentagon officials revealed that two items collected in the building’s mail contained ricin.

The Pentagon mail screening center identified two suspicious items addressed to Defense Secretary James Mattis and to Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson. The envelopes underwent testing and were confirmed to contain ricin, according to a CNN report Tuesday.

“On Monday, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency detected a suspicious substance during mail screening at the Pentagon’s remote screening facility. The envelopes were taken by the FBI this morning for further analysis,” said Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, according to the Washington Examiner.

“All USPS mail received at the Pentagon mail screening facility yesterday is currently under quarantine and poses no threat to Pentagon personnel,” Manning added.

The FBI and Pentagon Force Protection responded to the incident. The FBI is conducting additional testing on the envelopes.

“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.

The mail screening center is a separate facility from the Pentagon on the same campus. The facility itself was shut down and all mail placed in quarantine.

No injuries were reported so far.

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

The Pentagon’s mail processing facility is an underground facility built after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks to screen all mail sent to the Pentagon.

This story has been updated to include the most recent events and up-to-date information.