“If it was ricin, I was dead” – White Powder Mail Threatens Dr. Fauci

Fauci White Powder ABC News.

Dr. Anthony Fauci received a white powder threat that could have killed him. The powder spilled all over his face and chest.

“It had to be one of three things: A hoax. Or anthrax, which meant I’d have to go on Cipro for a month. Or if it was ricin, I was dead, so bye-bye.”

RaySecur’s CSO Will Plummer warns that Ricin attacks will remain a threat, and that security professionals should plan accordingly.

Fauci told The New York Times this weekend, “…one day I got a letter in the mail, I opened it up and a puff of powder came all over my face and my chest.”

“The security detail was there, and they’re very experienced in that. They said, ‘Don’t move, stay in the room.’ And they got the hazmat people. So they came, they sprayed me down and all that.”

Given how easy Ricin is to make—see the news about a college student making ricin in his dorm room—Will Plummer says that Ricin incidents should “move up on the list of high probability threats.”

Assess Your Risk Level

RaySecur's Mail Security team offer private, 1-on-1 workshops to help companies assess their level of risk.

If you’d like help with your risk assessment or SOP, we’d be happy to help.

Ricin is a Rising Mail Threat

A brief look at why RaySecur’s CSO Will Plummer says security professionals should expect mail-borne ricin attacks to continue.

Dangerous Mail Threat History 11 - Ricin 2003 USA thumb.

Low-tech, “legal” threat

Ricin comes from Castor beans, which are perfectly legal to acquire and own. When refined, it can be made into a deadly toxin.

This makes ricin an accessible substance for many, without the need to purchase illegal materials.

Injected, ingested, or absorbed

Thanks to its physical properties and potency, ricin can injure its victims through a variety of ways.

In mail-borne ricin attacks, it is most often delivered in powder form. As in the case of Dr. Fauci’s (physically) harmless hoax powder, the toxin would be absorbed through the skin.

The good news is that small amounts of ricin are rarely fatal—especially in powders likely to be found in mail.

While Dr. Fauci is a world-renowned expert on infectious diseases, his statements The Times about dying from his cutaneous (skin) exposure to powdered ricin appear inaccurate.

Mail & Ricin: New York Times.

Woman Mails Ricing to Trump White House

US law enforcement intercepted a package containing ricin and addressed to President Trump in late 2020, according to CNN.

A Canadian woman was detained in connection with a Ricin letter sent to the White House. Ricin is a deadly toxin, and this is an extremely serious incident.

US Secret Service and other federal agencies typically do not want news of high-profile attacks to reach the public.

Dangerous Mail Threat History 10 - Anthrax 2001 USA thumb.

2001 Anthrax Attacks

Ricin is hardly the first substance to be used in dangerous mail attacks, especially against high-profile targets.

After the 9/11 attacks on the US, a wave of fear swept across Washington, prompting many people to take antibiotics in case they had somehow been exposed.

When it was all over, the packages had killed five people and sickened 17 others. 

Letters that were sent to then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Sen. Patrick Leahy declared “Death to America. Death to Israel.”

Although the FBI interviewed more than 9,100 people and issued more than 6,000 subpoenas in the case, no one has been convicted.

Assess Your Risk Level

RaySecur's Mail Security team offer private, 1-on-1 workshops to help companies assess their level of risk.

If you’d like help with your risk assessment or SOP, we’d be happy to help.

Mail Security Intelligence

Implementing a mail security program is often the missing link in a comprehensive physical security program. 

It is unfamiliar to many and may present challenges to those who are new to the world of mail security. 

RaySecur can help implement a sound mail center security practice and bridge the gap in your facility’s physical security.