WASHINGTON (AFP) - A suspicious substance was found at a US naval building near Washington, the Pentagon said on Thursday, after authorities earlier discovered two letters laced with deadly ricin sent to President Barack Obama and a US senator.
“A suspicious substance was found in the mailroom of Building #12 at Naval Support Facility” in Arlington, Virginia, just outside the US capital, and all personnel were evacuated from the building as “a precaution,” the statement said.
A military officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP that officials found a “white powdery substance” and were checking to determine if it was ricin, or perhaps another poison.
The announcement came one day after the FBI arrested a suspect over the mailings to Obama and Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi.
Authorities identified the suspect as Paul Kevin Curtis, who was arrested at his home in Corinth, Mississippi.
Ricin, a byproduct of the seeds of the castor oil plant, is one of the world’s most notorious poisons, killing the victim within three to five days.
As little as one milligram is all that is needed to kill an adult, and there is no antidote.