May 17, 2013 in City
Ricin-laced letters intercepted at postal facility
Two ricin-laced letters were seized this week at a postal facility in Spokane – one addressed to a federal judge and another to the Spokane post office, postal officials have reported.
The letters were postmarked Tuesday, officials said.
The FBI said the letters were seized during routine screening at a postal processing facility in Spokane, but provided no other details.
The Associated Postal Workers Union posted a news release Wednesday on its website after U.S. Postal Service management notified the union about the incident.
The union said the presence of ricin was detected in preliminary tests on the letters.
Ricin is a deadly poison derived from the castor bean plant.
Postal management told the union they had no reason to believe that any employees were at risk from handling the suspect letters as they passed through the mail stream in Spokane.
The Postal Service said the ricin was in a form that could not easily be inhaled or ingested.
“Further analysis is now being conducted in specially equipped public health laboratories,” the Postal Service said.
The letters contained physical threats, which were investigated by the Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Protective Service. That effort turned up no evidence of suspicious activity or items, the USPS said.
Jack Talcott, president of the postal workers local in Spokane, said he was told there is no indication that Spokane postal workers are facing a continuing threat.
He said he appreciated the information supplied to postal workers so far. “I’ve still got employees who are scared,” he said.
“I’m concerned for the safety of my membership,” he said.
The incident in Spokane comes a month after ricin-laced letters were addressed to President Barack Obama, a U.S. senator and a Mississippi judge. Two of the letters were seized at a mail processing facility, and the third letter reached the judge.
A Mississippi man was arrested in that incident.
A suspicious package was mailed to a federal judge in Spokane earlier this week but was found not to be hazardous, the Associated Press reported.