TORONTO: A Quebec woman suspected of sending letters containing the poisonous substance ricin to the White House and different locations in Texas, including a police department, is expected to appear in court in Buffalo, N.Y. today.
CTV News has confirmed that Quebec resident Pascale Ferrier has been identified as the suspect.
Ferrier was initially expected in a U.S. court to face federal charges on Monday afternoon, but the appearance was postponed.
Ferrier, 53, was arrested at the New York-Ontario border on Sunday, while trying to enter the U.S. Prosecutors in Washington, D.C., are expected to bring charges against her.
U.S. officials say ricin-laced letters were intercepted earlier this week before reaching their destinations, and the exact number is “in flux.” All mail for the White House is sorted and screened at an offsite facility before reaching the White House.
A team that specializes in biohazards swarmed a Montreal-area condo on Monday morning, evacuating several units as they looked for evidence connected to the ricin-laced letter sent to U.S. President Donald Trump.
The home is located in a multi-unit building on Vauquelin Blvd. in St-Hubert, Que., bordering a forest and not far from an airport.
RCMP said they didn’t know if Ferrier lived at the condo, but added that there was a clear connection between her and the home.
“There’s a link between the female suspect that was arrested in Buffalo, New York yesterday and this residence,” RCMP Cpl. Charles Poirier said Monday, explaining to reporters in St-Hubert that police had a search warrant for the residence.
An RCMP team dedicated to chemical threats and explosives is leading the ongoing investigation, with support from local police and fire units. Canadian law enforcement was called to help the FBI investigate after American authorities found evidence the suspicious letter to the White House had originated in Canada.
Ferrier, originally from France, became a Canadian citizen in November 2015. According to sources, she is a computer programmer.
She moved back to Laval last spring, weeks after being released from a Texas prison. Court documents show, in 2019, she was charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon and knowingly using a fake Texas driver’s license. According to arrest records, Ferrier spent three months in jail.
The Texas Police Department that laid those charges was also sent a letter with ricin last week.
Ricin is a deadly substance extracted from castor beans. It is a plant that is not restricted and is easy to grow. With enough exposure, the poison can be fatal within 36 to 72 hours. There is no specific test for exposure and no antidote.
This isn’t the first time a U.S. president has been sent ricin. Letters containing the substance and addressed to former president Barack Obama were intercepted on two separate occasions in 2013.
In those cases, each of the accused pleaded guilty to possession of a toxin for use as a weapon and received sentences between 18 and 25 years in prison. None of the charges against Ferrier have been proven in court.