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NEWS | Oct. 17, 2018

Utah Guard special unit assists with ricin investigation

By Ilene Kennedy Utah National Guard

 In support of the FBI and U.S. Postal Service, the Utah National Guard's 85th Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Team (CST) monitored Oct. 3 for hazardous materials at a home in Logan, after letters containing ground caster beans, the substance from which the deadly poison ricin is made, were mailed from the residence to President Donald Trump, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Navy Admiral John Richardson.

"The 85th CST members conducted joint entries with FBI agents in order to provide atmospheric monitoring and assist with evidence collection," said the 85th CST deputy commander, whose name was withheld.

The 85th CST deployed with its full complement of equipment, to include advanced communication, analytical, survey and medical. The 85th CST donned protective hazmat gear before entering the Logan residence to begin the investigation. They performed the technical decontamination for all agencies and agents exiting the residence as well as monitoring inside.

"We had indication he may possess dangerous chemicals in the house," said Doug Davis, an FBI special agent from the Salt Lake City Office.

"It was a good opportunity for us to participate in a high-visibility event and operate with multiple federal agency partners," said the 85th CST deputy commander. "The 85th CST was able to meet all of the objectives of the incident commander and it was another successful support mission of the CST."

Ricin is a highly toxic compound extracted from castor beans that has been used in terror plots. Ricin, which is part of the waste produced when castor oil is made, has no known antidote. It can be used in powder, pellet, or mist form. If ingested, it causes nausea, vomiting, bloody diarrhea and internal bleeding of the stomach and intestines, followed by failure of the liver, spleen and kidneys, and death by collapse of the circulatory system. If inhaled, within a few hours the likely symptoms would be coughing, tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing, nausea, and aching muscles. Within the next few hours, the body's airways would become severely inflamed (swollen and hot), excess fluid would build up in the lungs, breathing would become even more difficult, and the skin might turn blue.

The FBI released a statement reading:
"The Salt Lake City Division of the FBI has taken William Clyde Allen into custody per a probable cause arrest warrant authorized by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah. Per the USAO (U.S. Attorney's Office), a complaint is expected to be filed in federal court on Friday (Oct. 5)."

William Clyde Allen, a 39-year-old Logan resident, confessed to sending the letters laced with poison and was being held in the Davis County jail on a Threat of Terrorism charge. He is a former member of the U.S. Navy.

The probable cause statement includes:
"On or about September 24, 2018, William Clyde Allen III sent, via postal mail, four letters containing ground castor beans to the President of the United States, the FBI Director, the Secretary of Defense and the Chief of Naval Operations. During [an] interview of [Allen] on October 3, 2018 [Allen] confessed to having purchased castor beans and having sent letters. All four letters tested positive for ricin poison."