Two envelopes addressed Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson have tested positive for ricin after being intercepted at the Pentagon, according to officials.
The two envelopes triggered alarms during screening at a mail facility which is not inside the main building but is nearby, defense officials said. They have been sent to the FBI for additional testing.
At around the same time, two people were hospitalized after being exposed to a white powder that was contained in mail sent to Sen. Ted Cruz’s Houston campaign office. Their injuries are not known. Neither of the victims worked for Cruz’s campaign.
It is not known if the two incidents are linked or what the substance sent to Cruz’s office was.
All mail sent to the Pentagon via the US Postal Service on Monday was placed under quarantine as a precaution and all workers from Cruz’s Houston campaign office were evacuated.
CNN cited two unnamed officials who named Mattis and Richardson as the intended targets of the Pentagon mail.
‘The Pentagon Force Protection Agency detected a suspicious substance during mail screening at the Pentagon’s remote screening facility.
A Pentagon spokeswoman says the suspicious substance found in envelopes turned over to the FBI contained the substance from which the poison ricin is derived, but not ricin itself.
Dana W. White, the chief Pentagon spokeswoman, told reporters traveling with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in Brussels that the substance was castor seeds.
On Tuesday, Pentagon officials said two envelopes that had been suspected of containing ricin were isolated at a Pentagon mail screening facility, then sent to the FBI. They said one envelope was addressed to Mattis, the other to the chief of the U.S. Navy, Adm. John Richardson. No one was injured.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if castor seeds are swallowed the released ricin can cause injury.