Castor oil is a residual product of the process of obtaining castor seed oil. According to the description of the Center for Disease Prevention and Control, ricin “acts by entering cells in a person’s body and stopping their ability to produce the necessary proteins. Without protein, cells begin to die. Eventually, the whole body is affected and death can occur.
Death from ricin poisoning can occur within 36-72 hours of first contact, depending on the amount to which the person has been exposed and whether the poison has been inhaled, ingested or injected.
“It takes a deliberate act to produce castor oil and use it to poison people,” the CDC said.
US authorities are currently working to find out if they have sent other ricin sachets by US mail. The White House has not commented yet.
It is not, moreover, the first time that the White House discovers castor in the correspondence received. In 2018, a U.S. Navy veteran was arrested and charged with trying to send ricin to several public figures, including Donald Trump, James Mattis, the then Pentagon chief, GIA Haspel, CIA director, and Christopher Wray, FBI director. .
In 2014, a man in Mississippi received a 25-year prison sentence after sending a series of letters containing ricin to Barack Obama and other officials.
The most famous case of castor poisoning, however, comes from the Cold War. In 1978, Gheorghi Markov, a Bulgarian dissident, was assassinated by the Bulgarian secret services in London with an umbrella topped with castor oil.