A woman has been arrested after sending a hazardous package to the White House - here’s what happened

Monday, 21st September 2020, 2:34 pm
Updated Monday, 21st September 2020, 2:34 pm
The letter was intercepted at a government facility (Photo: Shutterstock)
The letter was intercepted at a government facility (Photo: Shutterstock)

A woman suspected of sending an envelope containing the deadly poison ricin to US President Donald Trump has been arrested.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The letter was intercepted before it reached the White House, with the woman taken into custody as she tried to enter the US from Canada at a border crossing in New York State.

Expected to face charges

The suspect was reportedly carrying a gun, and US prosecutors in Washington are expected to bring federal charges against her, law enforcement officials have said.

The letter, which was addressed to the White House, was intercepted at a government facility that screens mail addressed to both the White House and President Trump.

A preliminary investigation of the package indicated a positive test for the poison ricin, according to officials, and it is believed to have originated in Canada. Authorities are also investigating similar packages that were mailed to addresses in Texas which could be linked to the same sender in Canada.

A spokeswoman for Canada’s Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair told CNN, “We are aware of the concerning reports of packages containing ricin directed toward US federal government sites.

“Canadian law enforcement is working closely with their US counterparts. As this is an active investigation, we cannot comment further.”

This is not the first time US officials have been targeted with packages of ricin. A Navy veteran was arrested in 2018 after confessing to sending envelopes to President Trump.

Similarly, in 2014, a Mississippi man was sentenced to 25 years in prison after sending letters dusted with the poison to former US President Barack Obama and other officials.

What is ricin?

Ricin is a highly toxic poison that is found naturally in caster beans and can be in the form of a powder, mist or pellet, or dissolved in water.

If ingested, the substance can cause nausea, vomiting and internal bleeding of the stomach and intestines, leading to liver and kidney failure, and an eventual collapse of the circulatory system.

A lethal oral dose of ricin in humans is estimated to be about 500 micrograms - around the size of the head of a pin - and there is no antidote once a person has been exposed.