Suspicious, poison-laced letter found in Landover mailing facility -- Gazette.Net


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Since early Wednesday, a government mail processing facility in Landover has been the site of a hazardous materials investigation after a poison-laced letter was intercepted.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, a letter was preliminarily found to contain ricin — a toxic and poisonous substance that can be fatal if inhaled or ingested.

This is the third ricin-laced letter to be intercepted within two days from various government mail processing centers in the area and all have either been addressed to President Barack Obama or U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss), according to the FBI.

FBI officials said that letter is being tested to determine the exact substance and tests will take 24 to 48 hours.

Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department’s Hazmat team has been at the facility at 3601 Pennsy Drive since 6:30 a.m. assisting federal authorities with their investigation, according to county fire officials.

Fire Chief Marc Bashoor said the fire department was still on scene assisting as of 5 p.m. and that aiding in suspicious letter investigations is not uncommon.

“We got a 911-type call for our hazmat team to assist federal authorities,” said Bashoor. “We come to this facility about once a week anyway. For us, this isn’t that unusual. It just happens to have happened at same time that all this other stuff is going on with Boston.”

Bashoor said since the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the mail screening facility underwent upgrades to its systems and can now identify hazardous materials in letters and packages much more easily.

Bashoor said he is unaware if there is any connection between the suspicious letter found and the Boston Marathon explosions Monday.

“Right now there’s obviously an abundance of caution with heightened awareness,” he said.

An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment on who found the letter at the Landover facility Wednesday morning was addressed to saying it was an ongoing investigation.

“The investigation into these letters remains ongoing, and more letters may still be received,” an FBI release stated Wednesday. “There is no indication of a connection to the attack in Boston.”

djgross@gazette.net