WASHINGTON — Two or more packages delivered to the Pentagon this week were suspected to contain the deadly poison ricin, an official said Tuesday.
Defense Department spokesman Chris Sherwood said at least two suspicious packages, addressed to someone in the Pentagon, were intercepted at a nearby screening center on Monday.
“As part of the screening process, [authorities] recognized some suspicious packages,” Sherwood said, noting they were “suspected to be ricin.”
One envelope was addressed to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who is traveling in Europe this week, and the other to the Navy’s top officer, Adm. John Richardson, a defense official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly ahead of FBI release of its findings.
Neither envelope entered the Pentagon. The mail screening facility is on the Pentagon grounds but separate from the main building.
Sherwood stressed that authorities were still waiting for confirmation that the packages contained ricin. Pentagon police referred the matter to the FBI for investigation.
“FBI Special Agents took possession of two suspicious envelopes that had been screened at the Pentagon mail facility. Those envelopes are currently undergoing further testing,” the FBI said in a statement.
Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning said all mail received at the Pentagon’s screening facility Monday was “placed under quarantine and poses no threat to Pentagon personnel.”
Produced by processing castor beans, ricin is lethal in minute doses if swallowed, inhaled, or injected and 6,000 times more potent than cyanide, with no known antidote.
AP contributed to this report.