About a week after six letters laced with ricin arrived in prominent mailboxes south of the border, a Québec woman was arrested at the Peace Bridge between Fort Erie, Ont., and Buffalo, N.Y.
While five poisoned letters were mailed to Texas law enforcement officers, another one was addressed to U.S. President Donald Trump.
The latter letter, mailed to the White House, was intercepted at a U.S. government facility responsible for screening the president’s mail, an anonymous official told the Associated Press. In a preliminary investigation, the letter tested positive for ricin, a highly potent toxin that naturally occurs in castor beans and is occasionally used in terrorist attacks.
“As little as 500 micrograms – an amount the size of the head of a pin – can kill an adult. There is no specific test for exposure and no antidote once exposed,” CNN reported on Sept. 21. “Ricin can be produced easily and cheaply, but experts say it is more effective on individuals than as a weapon of mass destruction.”
The cover is postmarked “H4T,” according to an image published by CNN. The H4T postal code is used in Saint-Laurent, Qué., where Canada Post operates a mail-sorting facility.
U.S. court documents identify the suspect as Pascale Ferrier, 53, of Saint-Hubert, Qué., who tried crossing the Canada-U.S. border into Buffalo before her arrest on Sept. 20. She was allegedly carrying a loaded firearm in her waistband plus a knife.
Ferrier was held in custody until her first federal court appearance in New York on Sept. 22, when she pleaded not guilty to one felony count of making a threat against the U.S. president. She faces up to five years in prison and will remain in custody until another hearing on Sept. 28.