RCMP raid Montreal-area home tied to ricin-laced envelopes sent to White House, Texas

RCMP raid Montreal-area home tied to ricin-laced envelopes sent to White House, Texas

ST-HUBERT, Que. — RCMP raided a residence on Montreal’s south shore Monday in connection with envelopes containing the poison ricin that were sent to the White House and to various locations in Texas.

The home is tied to a woman arrested Sunday night at the New York-Canada border who authorities suspect is involved in the case, Cpl. Charles Poirier told reporters at the scene.

“We don’t know if she lived here but there is a clear link between her and this residence,” Poirier said. The home is located in a multi-unit building on Vauquelin Blvd. in St-Hubert, Que., bordering a forest and not far from an airport.

Some of the units in the building were evacuated after police arrived around 10 a.m. Police were still on site as of 5 p.m. The RCMP’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives team is leading the operation with support from local police and firefighters.

“We don’t know what we’re going to find, that’s why we’ve deployed multiple resources,” Poirier said. “We also have a specialized unit to make sure that if we find something that is highly toxic inside the residence, we are prepared.”

The Associated Press reported Sunday that three U.S. law enforcement officials said a woman suspected of sending a toxic envelope to the White House was arrested at the New York-Canada border. They said the letter had been intercepted last week before it reached the official residence of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Poirier said Monday that envelopes containing ricin — a toxic substance found naturally in castor beans — had also been sent to various locations in Texas.

Contacted by The Canadian Press, the sheriff’s office in Hidalgo County, in southern Texas, referred all questions to the Twitter account of Sheriff Eddie Guerra. He posted late Monday afternoon, “I can confirm that envelopes, containing the deadly toxin ricin, was mailed to me and three of my detention staff.

“At this time due to (an) active federal investigation I cannot make any further comments … No injuries were sustained.”

Canadian law enforcement was called in to help the FBI investigate after American authorities found evidence the suspicious letter to the White House had originated in Canada.

The woman was taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Peace Bridge border crossing in Fort Erie, Ont. She is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday afternoon in Buffalo, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Her name was not immediately released.

There have been several prior instances in which U.S. officials have been targeted with ricin sent through the mail.

A Navy veteran was arrested in 2018 and confessed to sending envelopes to Trump and members of his administration that contained the substance from which ricin is derived. The letters were intercepted, and no one was hurt.

In 2014, a Mississippi man was sentenced to 25 years in prison after sending letters dusted with ricin to President Barack Obama and other officials.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 21, 2020.

— With files from The Associated Press.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

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