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Ricin Suspected in Letters Sent to Trump, Pentagon


Employees sort through Tuesday’s mail at the Pentagon’s mail screening facility, Oct. 2, 2018.
Employees sort through Tuesday’s mail at the Pentagon’s mail screening facility, Oct. 2, 2018.

An envelope addressed to President Donald Trump containing a substance thought to be the toxin ricin appears to be connect to two letters intercepted at the Pentagon.

"The Secret Service can confirm receipt of a suspicious envelope addressed to the President on Oct. 1, 2018," the Secret Service said in a statement. "The envelope was not received at the White House, nor did it ever enter the White House. "

The letters sent to the Pentagon — one addressed to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and the other to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson — have tested positive for ricin, defense officials told VOA Tuesday.

The envelopes were taken by the FBI Tuesday for further testing, according to Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Rob Manning.

The two letters arrived Monday at the Defense Department's mail distribution center just outside the Pentagon. The Pentagon Force Protection Agency detected the substance during mail screening, so the letters never entered the Pentagon building, officials said.

Ricin is a naturally occurring toxin found in castor beans. If inhaled, ingested or injected in a refined form, ricin can kill a person within 48 hours of exposure. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no antidote for Ricin.

"All USPS (United States Postal Service) mail received at the Pentagon mail screening facility (Monday) is currently under quarantine and poses no threat to Pentagon personnel," according to Manning.

The Defense Department's mail screening facility has about 15 employees who screen every envelope and parcel mailed to the Pentagon. All of those employees wear special suits to protect them from hazardous materials.