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Feds Indict New York Man For Attempting To Buy Deadly Toxin Ricin

January 21, 2015  |  Posted by: Giovanni DePhillips
Feds Indict New York Man For Attempting To Buy Deadly Toxin Ricin Image courtesy of huffingtonpost.com

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U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for the Southern District of  New York announced on Tuesday, A two-count indictment against a New York Man for attempting to acquire and distribute the deadly toxin ricin and committing postal fraud.

According to Bharara, Cheng Le was pinched on Dec. 23, 2014, by FBI agents in Manhattan.

The Indictment against the Le, which was unsealed Tuesday in Manhattan federal court:

Ricin is a highly potent and potentially fatal toxin with no known antidote.  In December 2014, an individual (the Ricin Buyer) contacted an FBI online covert employee (the OCE) on an online forum.

During Dec. 2014, the Ricin Buyer exchanged a series of messages with the OCE, during which the Ricin Buyer explored the possibility of the OCE supplying the Ricin Buyer with ricin, for the Ricin Buyer to resell to at least one secondary buyer.

On or about Dec. 18, 2014, the Ricin Buyer directed the OCE to send a quantity of ricin to a particular postal box in Manhattan (the Postal Box).  The FBI later determined that the Postal Box belonged to Cheng Le.

Later that same day, FBI agents observed Le wear latex gloves while retrieving a package from the Postal Box (the Package) and mailing it at a nearby post office (the Post Office).

Law enforcement officers examined the Package, confirmed that it did not contain any hazardous materials, and determined that Le had listed a fake name as the Package’s return address.

A postal employee (the Postal Employee) informed the FBI that the Postal Employee had seen Le at the Post Office on multiple prior occasions and that Le has worn blue latex gloves on at least some of those occasions.

The FBI prepared a package (the Sham Shipment) that was consistent with the Ricin Buyer’s request to the OCE, which was then delivered to the Postal Box.  On Dec. 23, 2014, Le, wearing latex gloves, retrieved the Sham Shipment, opened it, and took the contents to his apartment, whereupon he was arrested by FBI agents.

The indictment charges Le, 21, in two counts.  Count One charges Le with attempting to possess a biological toxin for use as a weapon, and carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Count Two charges Le with using a fictitious name in furtherance of unlawful business involving the mail, and carries a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment.

The maximum potential sentences in this case by law and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.

From The DOJ


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