Woman Arrested After Allegedly Sending Ricin Letter to Trump From Canada

A woman was arrested at the Canada-U.S. border for allegedly sending a letter containing the poison ricin to President Trump.
September 21, 2020, 5:12pm
President Donald Trump ricin
A woman was arrested after allegedly sending a letter containing ricin to President Donald Trump. Photos by Chris Carlson/Associated Press and via Wikimedia Commons

Authorities have arrested a woman suspected of sending a letter containing the poison ricin to U.S. President Donald Trump.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency told VICE News the woman was arrested attempting to enter the United States at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, New York.

CBC News is reporting the woman’s name is Pascale Cecile Veronique Ferrier, though authorities have not publicly named her. Federal charges are expected to be laid against her.

CNN reports that the letter, addressed to Trump and the White House, was sent from St. Hubert, Quebec. It contained ricin, an extremely deadly poison. According to the Associated Press, American officials intercepted the letter at a screening facility.

Police in Quebec sent in a specialized team which includes chemical and biological weapons experts to investigate a condo in Longueuil’s Saint-Hubert borough on Monday.

“Our Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives team (CBRNE) is leading the operation,” Quebec RCMP tweeted. “Police and Fire teams from Longueuil are also on site.  All necessary measures have been taken to ensure public safety.”

The team, which combines local police, the RCMP, and members of the Canadian Forces, entered a recently-constructed condo building at around 10 a.m. Monday. RCMP Cpl. Charles Poirier told reporters that the RCMP was executing search warrants, at the request of the FBI, in one of the units.

Poirier said the unit in question was "connected" to the woman arrested in Buffalo Sunday night, but could not confirm if she lived there. Police said they didn’t know if the ricin was produced in the condo building, but evacuated nearby units.

The RCMP confirmed that the woman is suspected of having mailed the toxic substance to both the White House and five addresses in Texas.

Social media accounts seemingly belonging to Ferrier reveal she had travelled extensively throughout the United States in recent years.

Per a Facebook page set up for her web development business, Ferrier drove an RV from Quebec to Texas in 2018. In May, 2019, she was arrested on three charges in Edinburg, Texas, on two firearms charges and for tampering with a government record—although the charges appear to have been dismissed. Not long after, her Facebook page reported she was heading back to Canada.

This September, a Twitter account that appeared to belong to Ferrier—which had been dormant—began tweeting threatening anti-Trump messages. Responding to a tweet that recommended someone shoot the president in the face, Ferrier replied: "I just read this tweet. I agree… Nobody did anything… It's time to change! #killtrump." She also liked other anti-Trump tweets. The only accounts Ferrier follows are law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Secret Service.

According to her LinkedIn, Ferrier has previously worked for several defence contractors, including French aerospace companies Thales and Airbus—her current employer is listed as American defence firm Pratt & Whitney.

An unnamed U.S. law enforcement official told CNN that the woman had a gun on her at the time of her arrest. The official told CNN that authorities are investigating if the woman may have sent similar letters to Texas addresses. VICE News has not independently verified those claims.

Reports state that the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the FBI, the Secret Service and the RCMP are working together on this case.

"The RCMP can confirm that it has received a request for assistance from the FBI in connection with a suspicious letter sent to the White House," spokesperson Dan Brien told the Canadian Press. "Initial information from the investigation suggests that the letter originated in Canada."

Ricin is the by-product created when processing castor beans. If inhaled, ricin can cause a victim to suffer from severe respiratory problems and if ingested internal bleeding and organ failure. It can kill the victim in up to four to five days after initial exposure. The Mayo Clinic says “even a small amount of ricin may be fatal.”

This isn’t the first time that a U.S. president was the target of an attempted ricin attack. In April of 2013, letters containing ricin were sent to then-president Barack Obama, a Republican senator, and a Mississippi judge. In 2018, letters containing trace amounts of ricin were sent to Trump and other Republican politicians.

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Correction: A previous version of this story identified Saint-Hubert as a borough of Montreal when it is in fact a borough of Longueuil.