Envelope addressed to White House found to contain lethal poison ricin

Envelope addressed to White House found to contain lethal poison ricin
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An envelope addressed to the White House has been found to contain ricin, a lethal poison.

The envelope, believed to have been mailed from Canada, was intercepted at an offsite processing facility before it arrived at its intended destination, the official residence and workplace of US President Donald Trump, according to reports by the New York Times, CNN and the Wall Street Journal.

When questioned about the reports, the FBI said the agency, US Secret Service and US Postal Inspection Service partners are "investigating a suspicious letter received at a US Government mail facility. At this time, there is no known threat to public safety".

Letters tainted with the lethal substance were also sent to federal agencies in Texas, the New York Times reports, citing a law enforcement official briefed on the matter. Investigators are now working to determine if more envelopes containing the toxin are circulating through the postal system.

The White House and US Secret Service declined to comment.

Ricin is found naturally in castor beans, but it takes a deliberate act to convert it into a biological weapon. The poison can cause death within 36 to 72 hours from exposure to an amount as small as a pinhead. No known antidote exists.

There have been numerous incidents involving ricin being mailed to US officials.

In 2018, Navy veteran William Clyde Allen was indicted for mailing letters "containing castor bean material" to Trump and other federal officials, including FBI director Christopher Wray. He remains in custody.

Two people were convicted in separate incidents of sending ricin-tainted letters to former President Barack Obama.

In May 2014, Mississippi man James Everett Dutschke was sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to sending letters containing the deadly substance to Obama, as well as a senator and a state judge. In July 2014, Texas actor Shannon Richardson was sentenced to 18 years in prison for mailing letters containing ricin to Obama and former New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg.

Reuters / Newshub.