Remnants of a possible deadly agent was found inside a package that was sent to the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce last week. It's called ricin. However, these are just preliminary reports. Health officials say the package arrived at the chamber last Tuesday. Chamber of Commerce Director, Eddie McBride says the package wasn't suspicious to them until they found a green substance and threatening words about President Bush inside the package. A similar package was sent to the Chamber of Commerce in Abilene two days later. The health department sent its test off to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta for an official test result. FBI agents say the packages were sent from an unknown address in Brazil. Ricin comes from the waste of the Castor Oil Plant.
Press Release from the City of Lubbock:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CITY OF LUBBOCK
TUESDAY, MAY 13, 2003
Update on suspicious letter received by Chamber
A letter containing a "suspicious" material and threatening language was received by the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce last week. The letter was postmarked in Brazil.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is taking the lead in this investigation as similar letters were sent to Abilene City Hall and the Abilene Chamber of Commerce. The FBI also is investigating incidents in several states where similar letters were sent to chambers and municipalities.
Preliminary tests on the letter's substance at the City of Lubbock Health Department were positive for the bioterrorism agent Ricin. Definitive studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta on specimens from other states proved the material was not Ricin. Testing for Lubbock's and Abilene's specimens are pending at the CDC.
No one has become ill from exposure to the suspicious substance.
Employees of local city halls and chambers of commerce are encouraged to identify postmarks of all correspondence received in their offices, and to contact their local law enforcement, Health Department and the FBI if they receive a letter postmarked in Brazil. Employees are advised NOT to open the letter, and to let law enforcement experts handle the letter once received.
With aerosol exposure, Ricin causes weakness, fever, cough, and lung disease within 18-24 hours.
Contact Ken Condon, Bioterrorism Coordinator at 775-2917, or Tigi Ward, Public Health Coordinator - Surveillance at 775-2941 for further information. Additional information can be obtained from TDH Region 1 Thomas Betz, Medical Director or Barry Wilson, Epidemiologist 806-744-3577, and at the FBI national press office concerning this investigation at (202) 324-3691.