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Secret Service Thwarts Potential Ricin Assassination Attempt on President Trump


The U.S. Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) earlier this week intercepted an envelope on its way to the White House that contained what investigators later identified as the lethal poison ricin, The New York Times reported on Saturday afternoon. Similar letters containing the substance were also sent to several unidentified local law enforcement agencies in Texas.

According to the report, which was sourced from a law enforcement official who had been briefed on the matter, investigators believe the parcels were originally sent from Canada.

One of the envelopes containing the poison was addressed to President Donald Trump, which underwent two separate tests confirming the presence of ricin. It was caught “at the final offsite processing facility where mail is screened before being sent to the White House mail room,” a second law enforcement official told the Times.

No one was reported harmed due to the ricin.

Ricin is a very toxic substance that is made from the waste material left over from processing castor beans. The poison can take several forms, including powder, mist, or pellets. It works by penetrating human cells and preventing and preventing them from producing the required proteins, per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If ingested, it can cause nausea, vomiting, and internal bleeding, that is generally followed by failure of the liver, spleen and kidneys, before the subject dies due to circulatory system collapse.

This was not the first time someone has attempted to send President Trump ricin through the mail. Several envelopes addressed to the president as well as then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis and then-chief of naval operations, Adm. John Richardson were intercepted by the Secret Service in Oct. 2018. Navy veteran William Clyde Allen was charged with seven criminal counts related to the envelopes.

Additionally, four men in Georgia were charged and sentenced to prison for planning to target federal and state officials in five U.S. states with ricin in 2011.

Update – Sept. 20, 9:44 a.m.: We replaced the reference to “federal agencies in Texas” with “local law enforcement agencies in Texas.” The original version of that sentence was based on information that the Times said turned out to be incorrect.

From their story:

Because of incorrect information supplied by a person familiar with the matter, an earlier version of this article misidentified the agencies in Texas. They are local agencies, not federal agencies.

[image via NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.