(CORINTH, Miss.) — Authorities have arrested a Mississippi man believed to be responsible for letters apparently tainted with the poison ricin that were sent to President Obama and government offices, including that of Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.
The FBI identified the man as Paul Kevin Curtis of Corinth, Miss.
He was arrested at his home at approximately 5:15 p.m. CT, the FBI said in a written statement, adding he was “believed to be responsible for the mailings of the three letters sent through the U.S. Postal Inspection Service which contained a granular substance that preliminarily tested positive for ricin. The letters were addressed to a U.S. senator, the White House and a Mississippi justice official.”
The letter addressed to President Obama that field-tested positive for the poison ricin included the message, “To see a wrong and not expose it is to become a silent partner to its continuance,” according to a source familiar with an investigation of the incident.
“I am KC and I approve this message,” the letter read.
The letter was received at the remote White House mail screening facility Tuesday, according to law enforcement officials.
The facility routinely identifies letters or parcels that require secondary screening or scientific testing before delivery.
The separate Senate mail-handling facility on Tuesday also received a suspicious letter potentially laced with ricin addressed to Sen. Wicker, postmarked from Memphis. It contained the same message included in the letter addressed to the president, according to the source.
The Centers for Disease Control defines ricin as a poison that comes from castor beans and can be found in a powder, a mist, a pellet or dissolved in water.
“In the 1940s, the U.S. military experimented with using ricin as a possible warfare agent,” the CDC writes. “In some reports ricin has possibly been used as a warfare agent in the 1980s in Iraq and more recently by terrorist organizations.”
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Lauren del Valle and Shachar Peled, CNN
Stephen Collinson, CNN