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Thursday, September 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane man charged with sending ricin-laced letters

38-year-old accused of sending poison-laced letters


Federal prosecutors Wednesday charged a 38-year-old Spokane man with developing and sending poison-laced letters to President Barack Obama and a federal judge in Spokane.

The court documents say Matthew Ryan Buquet produced ricin, an illegal biological toxin, and mailed the substance in threatening letters between April 29 and May 14.

He was arrested May 22 after agents raided his Browne’s Addition apartment. He is jailed without bond on the charges as the case unfolds.

The FBI has said Buquet sent five letters in total; other recipients were the CIA, Fairchild Air Force Base and a Spokane post office.

If federal prosecutors decide additional charges are warranted, the indictment filed Wednesday can be amended.

The letter sent to U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle, postmarked May 13, and the one sent to the post office were intercepted at the U.S. Post Office in downtown Spokane on May 14.

Ricin is a potentially lethal poison that can be extracted from castor beans. It can cause death if swallowed or injected.

No injuries were reported during the recovery of the five letters allegedly mailed by Buquet.

Buquet, who is represented by a federal public defender, has pleaded not guilty to the initial charge of mailing threatening communications.

An arraignment on the new charges has not been scheduled.

The documents filed in court Wednesday said the letters included written threats to the president and the judge that said, “We have a bomb placed, and we are going to kill you!” The two notes suggested the sender was associated with Hezbollah, the militant Islamic group based in Lebanon.

Buquet, who was born in Bogota, Colombia, is not known to have had any contact with that group.

A search of federal records found no instance of Buquet appearing before Van Sickle.

His record includes a 1998 conviction for indecent liberties, for which he was required to register as a sex offender. In 2000 Buquet filed for Chapter 7 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Eastern Washington.

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