“An envelope that tested positive for the deadly poison ricin was intercepted Tuesday afternoon at the U.S. Capitol’s off-site mail facility in Washington, congressional and law enforcement sources tell CNN.
After the envelope tested positive in a first routine test, it was retested two more times, each time coming up positive, the law enforcement source said. The package was then sent to a Maryland lab for further testing.
The envelope was addressed to a U.S. senator, though the sources would not say which one.
Ricin is a highly toxic substance derived from castor beans. … There is no specific test for exposure and no antidote once exposed.
It can be produced easily and cheaply, and authorities in several countries have investigated links between suspect extremists and ricin. But experts say it is more effective on individuals than as a weapon of mass destruction.
“Federal officials discovered Tuesday a poison-laced letter sent to Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), uncovering the material at an off-site location where congressional mail has been screened since anthrax-laced letters were sent to Capitol Hill in 2001.
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and other senators exiting an FBI briefing on the Boston attacks, told reporters that the letter was tested at the facility and came up positive for ricin. Officials gave no indication why the letter was sent to Wicker, a low-profile senator in his second term.
In 2004, three Senate office buildings were closed after preliminary tests found ricin delivered through the mail system in the Senate majority leader’s office.