Pharmacist Tried to Weaponize Ricin, Abrin

The licensed pharmacist from New York City, formerly of Jersey City, New Jersey, was hell bent on manufacturing and deploying deadly toxins as weapons of mass destruction.

From 2011 to 2013 he bought thousands of seeds containing ricin and abrin, plus the equipment needed to extract and administer those toxins to others. Even small doses of ricin and abrin are lethal to humans if ingested, inhaled or injected — causing death within 36 to 72 hours from the time of exposure. There are no known antidotes.

The gear he bought included filtering devices, respirators and glass vials. He also got hold of conventional weapons such as crossbows, spraying devices, and other items to deliver the toxins.

A future confrontation

He admitted he wanted to make the toxins for use in some future confrontation. The pharmacist also acquired firearms, body armor, and precursor materials for the manufacture of military-grade explosives and improvised explosive devices. The purchases were made through an online marketplace where third-party vendors sell their goods.

The pharmacist was also in possession of manuals explaining how to extract toxins from the seeds and about methods to administer them. He had written instructions for making improvised explosive devices and synthesizing explosive compounds.

In November 2013, law enforcement officials intercepted a shipment addressed to the pharmacist in Manhattan of one kilogram of sodium azide, a toxic, gas-forming compound that can explode at high temperatures and is lethal if ingested or absorbed through the skin.

Three locations searched

Shortly after, he was arrested in Jersey City and search warrants were executed at three locations he used: apartments in Manhattan and Jersey City and a storage unit in Jersey City. In all, material collected through the searches included thousands of seeds containing ricin and abrin, explosive precursor chemicals, the instruction manuals, about 1,000 rounds of ammunition, handguns, components for assault rifles, high-capacity magazines, a bulletproof vest, and books and documents about surviving in a lawless environment.

Plans were also found in his possession for synthesizing controlled substances such as ecstasy.

Jordan S. Gonzalez, 34, was sentenced to 78 months in prison. He had previously pleaded guilty to the various charges against him. In addition to the prison term, Gonzalez got five years of supervised release.

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