- The Washington Times - Monday, February 23, 2004

A ricin-tainted letter mailed to the White House in October threatened to turn the nation’s capitol “into a ghost town” if new trucking regulations were not repealed, according to the FBI, which has posted a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

The White House letter, processed through a postal facility in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Oct. 17, was the second one intercepted that demanded an end to new regulations mandating more rest and orienting drivers toward a 24-hour work-and-rest cycle.

Both typewritten letters were signed by the “Fallen Angel,” claiming to be the fleet owner of a tanker company.

The first letter, dated Oct. 15, was discovered at a U.S. Postal facility in Greenville, S.C. The FBI said a typed message on the exterior of the envelope said: “caution RICIN POISON Enclosed in sealed container Do not open without proper protection.”

The FBI said that inside the envelope was a small, metal vial that contained ricin, a white potentially deadly poison, and that the writer claimed to have the ability to make large quantities of ricin and use it if new hours of service regulations for truckers were not repealed by Jan. 4.

The White House letter, discovered by the U.S. Secret Service at a Washington offsite mail processing facility in early November, contained similar threatening language, with the writer claiming that the powder on the letter was ricin. The substance contained in the letter later was identified by the FBI as containing ricin.

“If you change the hours of service on January 4, 2004, I will turn D.C. into a ghost town. The powder on the letter is RICIN. Have a nice day. Fallen Angel,” the letter said.

Several truckers and trucking companies have questioned the new regulations, saying they have resulted in lost wages and reduced productivity because of stricter rest requirements.

The FBI, along with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, also is investigating the source of a small amount of what has been identified as ricin found earlier this month in a mail-sorting annex at the Dirksen offices of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

Investigators have not identified any envelope as the source of that ricin or found a threatening letter in that case.

A batch of papers including 43 letters were taken from Mr. Frist’s office and tested at the Naval Medical Research Center in Bethesda. All tested negative for ricin, a toxin made from castor beans that can be fatal if inhaled, ingested or injected.

No illnesses were reported in the Frist discovery, although authorities closed the Dirksen, Hart and Russell buildings for several days.

Anyone with information concerning the identity of those responsible for the threatening letters is requested to contact the FBI toll free at 1-866/839-6241.

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