Suspicious substance found in 2 envelopes sent to Pentagon

WASHINGTON — A suspicious substance was found on Monday in two envelopes sent to the Pentagon, officials said Tuesday. In both cases, an initial test came out positive for ricin.

One of the letters was addressed to Secretary of Defense James Mattis; the other, to Chief of Naval Operations John M. Richardson, a U.S. official confirmed to WTOP. The one addressed to Mattis had a small card in it with what’s been described as scribbling on it and possibly a powder; the one addressed to Richardson had a small bean in it. Both envelopes were tested by the force protection agency and came out positive initially for ricin.

They’ve both been turned over to the FBI for more testing.

An official said one of the envelops was mailed from inside the United States; it’s not clear where the other one came from.

The Pentagon Force Protection Agency detected the substance during mail screening at the Pentagon’s remote screening facility, Department of Defense spokesman Col. Rob Manning said in a statement.

The screening facility is on the grounds of the Pentagon but not in the building.

The FBI took the envelopes for analysis, the FBI’s Washington Field Office said in a statement Tuesday. It’s not known when the FBI will make a final determination.

Meanwhile, all U.S. mail at the Pentagon is being held in quarantine while the tests are taken, and there is no health risk to Pentagon workers, the defense department said in the statement.

J.J. Green

JJ Green is WTOP's National Security Correspondent. He reports daily on security, intelligence, foreign policy, terrorism and cyber developments, and provides regular on-air and online analysis. He is also the host of two podcasts: Target USA and Colors: A Dialogue on Race in America.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up