What is Ricin? The Lethal Toxin Without Antidote Sent to President Trump at White House

A letter laced with an extremely lethal substance called ricin was intercepted before it could reach the White House.

Americans were shocked to find out through media reports on Saturday that a deadly substance called ricin was sent to President Donald Trump at his White House address recently, in the disguise of a letter. But he wasn't the only one. Letters with the same lethal toxin were also sent to the addresses of a detention facility in the state of Texas and a Sheriff's office in the same province.

The letter containing ricin addressed to the President of the United States went as far as the last testing facility not within the White House premises before their dangerous content was discovered. The ricin-stuffed mails to the institutions in Texas also got intercepted before reaching their intended destination.

White House
The letters were addressed to President Donald Trump and sent to the White House Xinhua/Yang Chenglin/IANS

As of now, the authorities have discovered that the malicious mails originated in Canada and the main suspect in the case, currently, is a lady. However, at this moment, no suggestion of the involvement of a terrorist group or person has been found. Further investigation by the Joint Terrorism Task Force is being conducted to figure out whether this lady is indeed the person responsible for this attempt on the life of the US President and if yes, what were her motivations.

"The FBI and our US Secret Service and US Postal Inspection Service partners are investigating a suspicious letter received at a U.S. government mail facility. At this time, there is no known threat to public safety," the official statement from the Federal Bureau of Investigation read.

What is ricin?

Ricin is a by-product in the manufacture of castor oil. When the castor beans are processed for the extraction of oil, the waste material produced contains this extremely toxic substance. As of today, there is no known antidote for ricin poisoning. It is this quality that makes it a potent biological weapon also.

It is not clear as to who and why President Trump was targeted

What makes ricin even deadlier is the fact that there is no established method yet of diagnosing its presence in a person's system. A man infected by this toxin may have no longer than three days to live if nothing is done to alleviate his condition. To make it worse, one doesn't require ricin in a large amount to fatally attack a person. So, even brief exposure to it can prove deadly.

Previous incidents

While not being the most commonly known poison in the world, ricin has been in the news before in the USA. In fact, this is not even the first case of this poison being sent to the White House. In 2013, a man in Mississippi addressed a letter each to President Barack Obama and a Senator belonging to the Republican Party. Both these letters had ricin packed along with them. However, that person was attempting to frame a rival rather than exercising his personal hatred.

In the same year, an actress called Shannon Richardson also mailed ricin-infested mails to President Barack Obama and the then-mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg.