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2 Oct, 2018 16:35

Parcels sent to Pentagon test positive for ricin - officials

Parcels sent to Pentagon test positive for ricin - officials

At least two packages sent to the Department of Defense headquarters in Washington, DC have tested positive for ricin, a dangerous poison, US officials said. The FBI is investigating.

The packages were sent to someone inside the Pentagon but triggered the alarms at the mail processing facility, DOD spokesman Chris Sherwood told reporters on Tuesday. The suspicious shipments never made it into the Pentagon building.

One of the pieces of mail was addressed to Defense Secretary James Mattis, officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity. The other was reportedly addressed to Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral John M. Richardson.

The envelopes were detected on Monday, said Colonel Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman. The Pentagon’s Force Protection Agency responded to the incident and the FBI will conduct further tests on the packages, officials told reporters. FBI is the lead agency on the case.

All mail delivered to the Pentagon on Monday has been quarantined for inspection.

Ricin is a highly toxic substance extracted from castor beans, and has figured prominently as a bioweapon in a number of foiled terrorist plots.

The most recent incident involving ricin-laced mail in Washington, DC was in April 2013, when a Mississippi man mailed envelopes with the toxin to Senator Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) and President Barack Obama.

The remote mail facility was set up after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent anthrax scare, to ensure that letters and packages can be screened for dangerous substances before they enter the Pentagon.

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