A Canadian suspected of sending a poisoned envelope to the White House has been apprehended at the New York-Canada border.
The suspect was arrested on Sunday evening for attempting to cause harm using a toxin called ricin.
U.S. law enforcement officials believe the letter was mailed somewhere in Canada. The envelope containing the poison had a partial stamp from Montreal. The FBI confirmed the arrest of an individual suspected of sending the letter and added that investigation is going on. Though the incident dramatic, it isn’t the first time attempted ricin poisoning has been reported. It is not the first time poison has been mailed to the U.S. President.
What is ricin?
Ricin is a naturally occurring poison. It is obtained from castor bean as a byproduct after the oil has been extracted. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is challenging to come across ricin. The poison is obtained through a deliberate act to harm people.
The CDC website state that ricin can take the form of a powder, mist, or pellet, which can dissolve in water. The ability to dissolve in water makes it dangerous. The poison kills within a span of 36 to 72 hours, depending on the level of exposure.
Although the poison doesn’t kill instantly, it’s gruesome, given that it has no antidote. When inhaled, symptoms such as nausea, heavy sweating, and breathing complications begin four hours after contact. When ingested, signs such as vomiting, diarrhea may be experienced.
According to Dr. Amesh Adalia, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, the use of ricin is considered as bioterrorism since it has no antidote. Substances that are quickly neutralized won’t be attractive for people trying to cause harm.
Earlier Ricin Use
In 2013, there were two attempts to send letters to then U.S. President Barack Obama. In the same year, a similar letter addressed to the Mississippi Republican Senator Roger Wicker was intercepted. Another letter was sent to a Mississippi judge who, despite receiving it, was unharmed. Following a massive investigation, James Everett Dutschke was arrested and given a 25 years sentence.