The Pentagon confirmed on Tuesday that two packages addressed to individuals inside the Department of Defense headquarters showed signs of containing a deadly poison.
According to Military Times, multiple Pentagon sources released initial statements, though details were sparse as the suspicious packages underwent additional examination.
“It’s suspected to be ricin,” said Pengaton spokesman Chris Sherwood, declining to reveal the packages’ addressee.
The toxic substance is formed from a castor bean extract and can be weaponized to form a deadly compound. Symptoms of ricin poisoning include nausea, internal bleeding and organ failure.
CNN correspondent Diane Gallagher updated her initial tweets on the breaking news by identifying the intended recipients of the potentially fatal substance.
“The two suspicious envelopes that initially tested positive for Ricin were addressed to Secretary of Defense James Mattis and to Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson, according to a US defense official,” she wrote.
Another military source said the items arrived via a U.S. Postal Service carrier at a mail processing site near the Pentagon on Monday. Upon inspection, the packages set off alarms and triggered a deeper probe.
“All USPS mail received at the Pentagon mail screening facility yesterday is currently under quarantine and poses no threat to Pentagon personnel,” said Army Col. Rob Manning.
As the Associated Press reported, the facility “is on the Pentagon grounds but not inside the main building that includes the offices of the defense secretary.”
Federal investigators have taken over the examination of the suspicious packages.
Citing officials, Gallagher tweeted that the “FBI and Pentagon Law Enforcement are responding and further testing is expected to be done by the FBI.”
An FBI statement confirmed earlier reports but offered little update to the developing narrative.
“On Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, in coordination with the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, FBI Special Agents took possession of two suspicious envelopes that had been screened at the Pentagon mail facility,” the bureau stated, according to CNN. “Those envelopes are currently undergoing further testing. As this is ongoing, we will have no further comment.”
A piece of mail delivered to the Pentagon’s remote delivery facility has initially tested positive for ricin, reports @barbarastarrcnn. While the package never entered the building, the FBI has been called in. https://t.co/BaSOPQSu2G pic.twitter.com/9Hg8hXs6yi
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) October 2, 2018
If another round of testing shows these packages did contain ricin, the FBI investigation would then likely ramp up to focus on where they originated and how many people came in contact with them along the way.
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