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Ricin found in P.G. post office screening facility


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Published on: Thursday, April 18, 2013

By Donna Broadway

LANDOVER- At 6:30 a.m. Wednesday a hazmat team was called to a mailing facility on Pepsi drive in Landover after they got a reading from an envelope that contained a toxin called ricin. The hazmat team conducted tests and it was confirmed there was ricin in the envelope. The source says that the substance, made from castor beans is toxic when inhaled.

It apparently got into parts of the air conditioning filter system in some parts of the building but no one was hurt or injured and the facility was evacuated. Hazmats teams remain on the scene as they are cleaning the ricin out of the facility and air vents. It took several hours to clean the facility

Roy Betts, spokesperson for the post office mail entry division says it is unlikely that any of the packages or letters came through a Montgomery County post office.

The letter was intended for President Obama and another letter containing ricin found at a postal facility in Washington, D. C. is said to have been intended for Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss). A third letter was hand delivered to the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. intended for Senator Richard Shelby (R-Al). Officials became suspicious due to the breech of protocol as letters are not delivered directly to senators.

Parts of the Hart and Russell building were shut down after several suspicious letters and packages were discovered. Senators and their staffers were placed on sheltering status, meaning no one is allowed outside the building and no one is allowed inside. Around 2:45pm. the sheltering status was lifted after the suspicious substance tested negative.

Sue Walitsky, Press Secretary for Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), who has an office in the Hart Building, says the senator was not in any immediate danger and none of the letters or packages were addressed or delivered to him.

Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who also has an office in the Hart Building, was not in any immediate danger and none of the letters or packages were addressed to her. Shortly after the sheltering was lifted, Senator Mikulski released a statement thanking everyone involved for their work during the ricin incident.

The FBI continues to investigate the origins of the ricin and packages.

The FBI says the letters sent to President Barack Obama and Sen. Roger Wicker are related and are both postmarked out of Memphis, Tenn., dated April 8.

In an intelligence bulletin obtained by The Associated Press, the FBI says the letters both say: "To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance." Both letters are signed, "I am KC and I approve this message."

The FBI says the substance in both letters have preliminarily tested positive for ricin.

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