09.14.16

Both were Americans

Posted in Bioterrorism, Ricin Kooks, War On Terror at 3:48 pm by George Smith

From an Associated Press story on August 23rd, on exotic weapons and emerging technologies in the hands of terrorists:

UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday that technological advances have made it easier for terrorist and criminal groups to obtain materials needed to make weapons of mass destruction, and some are actively trying to obtain nuclear, biological and chemical weapons to target civilians …

Gregory Koblentz, director of the Biodefense Graduate Program at George Mason University, said there are several emerging technologies that present challenges to international efforts to curb WMDs, including gene editing.

“Instead of gene drives being used to eliminate disease, they could be used to introduce new diseases into plant or animal populations,” he told the council.

Other potentially dangerous emerging technologies include the use of drones and the use of the Dark Web, which can only be accessed using special encryption software, guaranteeing anonymity to its users.

Koblentz said that in 2014 the U.S. arrested two people who had sold the toxins abrin and ricin — ricin is classified as a chemical weapon under the Chemical Weapons Convention — to customers in Austria, Canada, Denmark, England, India and the United States via a Dark Web marketplace called Black Market Reloaded.

“The global reach and anonymity of the Dark Web provides a new means for criminals and terrorists interested in dual-use equipment or materials to do business,” he said.

Black Market Reloaded was fairly quickly infiltrated by US law enforcement. Agents subsequently used identities on it to initiate sting operations involving the promised sale as well as the buying of poisons like ricin and abrin.

The two arrested on the Dark Web, specifically — users of Black Market Reloaded, were both Americans. Jesse Korff and James Christopher Malcolm.

Both accepted plea deals from the federal government with Malcolm sentenced to five years, Korff much longer.

Both were connected to the case of Ryan Chamberlain for which I served as a science consultant to the defense.

Considering the nature of the investigations and the results (there were about half a dozen arrests coming off BMR), the continued belief that the Dark Web provides anonymity in such instances is rather laughable.

09.05.16

Shut up about ricin and biowar. Carfentanil is here.

Posted in Bioterrorism, Decline and Fall, Ricin Kooks at 3:14 pm by George Smith

For the last decade and a half the American media has raised the poison found in castor seeds — ricin — to mythic proportion. And I’ve spent years doing my best to dispel the mythology.

Ricin has never been “easy to make.” And the mash of castor seeds is not a weapon of mass destruction. I’ve even been furnished expert consultations in criminal/terror cases involving it.

There is, however, a chemical that’s come to America’s white population. Carfentanil, a knock-out compound, with no real practical use other than tranquilizing elephants. And it is quite potent and already doing a great deal of harm.

From the New York Times:

Mr. Hatmaker became one of more than 200 people to overdose in the Cincinnati area in the past two weeks, leaving three people dead in what the officials here called an unprecedented spike. Similar increases in overdoses have rippled recently through Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia, overwhelming ambulance crews and emergency rooms and stunning some antidrug advocates …

In Cincinnati, some medical and law enforcement officials said they believed the overdoses were largely caused by a synthetic drug called carfentanil, an animal tranquilizer used on livestock and elephants with no practical uses for humans. Fentanyl can be 50 times stronger than heroin, and carfentanil is as much as 100 times more potent than fentanyl. Experts said an amount smaller than a snowflake could kill a person.

The implicated carfentanil is believed to be made in Mexico or China and put into heroin shipments, probably precisely because of its power, the manufacturers believing, perhaps, that it would lead to faster addiction and complicate forensic analysis.

But this is a clear miscalculation because he drug is so powerful.

“[Police] officers and sheriff’s deputies are so concerned about the potency of carfentanil and other synthetic opioids that they carry overdose-reversing naloxone sprays for themselves, in case they accidentally inhale or touch the tiniest flake,” reads the newspaper.

The chemical activity of carfentanil and the less powerful but more common fentanil, employed to spike heroin formulations now coming into the US, has catalyzed an exploding health crisis in rural and ex-urban America.

For the numbers, which are astonishing, read the rest of the piece.

In 2002, Russian special forces used fentanil when storming a theater in Moscow where 800 people were taken hostage by Chechnyan separatists who’d rigged themselves and the building with explosives. The results were catastrophic. One hundred and seventy people were killed due to the use of it.

08.30.16

Old White Coot

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Psychopath & Sociopath, Ricin Kooks at 1:27 pm by George Smith

There was a big list of “Americana” records in the Guardian today, coming from many famous artists: Bruce, the Drive-By Truckers, Dwight Yoakam, etc. Bring them on.

Because nothing beats “Ricin Mama” for REAL Americana, absolutely nothing. Torn from the pages of the news, utter desperation, zombie TV and the heart of Texas. Originally endorsed by federal lawmen, too! From an album, “Old White Coot.”

07.29.16

Suicide by ricin

Posted in Ricin Kooks at 1:26 pm by George Smith

One suicide by ingestion of castor powder containing ricin in Boulder, Colorado, this month:

An 18-year-old Boulder man, [Ryan Levine], died Wednesday night after police say he intentionally ingested the deadly poison ricin, which he had manufactured in his home.

Boulder County Coroner Emma Hall identified the man as Ryan Levine and said that the exact cause and manner of his death are still being investigated. Levine died at the University of Colorado Hospital, according to the coroner’s office.


Levine is believed to have purposely ingested the ricin and died later that night, according to a news release.

Spotty information from July 8, no updates.

A week later another teenager in Lakewood, New Jersey, attempted suicide with castor but survived:

A 19-year-old man’s suicide attempt in Lakewood Monday prompted an investigation by the county hazmat team, as well as federal authorities.

Police say that the unidentified teen tried to take his own life by ingesting a poisonous substance he claimed to be ricin. Police say that he later changed his mind, vomited and went to the hospital to seek treatment.

Officials say that preliminary test results showed evidence of castor beans, one of the ingredients used to make ricin, but the substance was not ricin itself.

Reports of ricin at hospital or in the emergency activate a national security response, put in place after 9/11 and the anthrax attacks.

“Lakewood officials called in the state police, FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force to investigate the incident,” it reads.

In contrast to this odd cluster, there have been no deaths or injuries due to terrorism by ricin in the last 15 years.

07.18.16

Let’s hope that’s what they think…

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Ricin Kooks, War On Terror at 12:37 pm by George Smith

From the Daily Heil, covering “Patrick Calvar, head of the General Directorate for Internal Security (DGSI) – France’s equivalent of MI5:”

[Calvar] said he feared a move towards car bombs and more conventional explosive devices, allowing terrorists to attack without risking their own lives, and that he believed Islamist extremists will look to use booby-trapped cars in the future.

He said: ‘I’m convinced they’ll go to booby-trapped vehicles and bombs, thus upping their power.

‘We know very well they’re going to use this mode of operating.

‘They’re going to end up sending commandos whose mission is to organise terrorist campaigns without necessarily going to the assault with death awaiting them.’

He also raised the possibility of extremists using ‘dirty bombs’ and the natural poison ricin, saying several radical groups had studied the toxin in the past.

The Armed Islamic Group, which caused terror in Algeria in the early 1990s, was looking to put the substance on car door handles to create a panic effect, Mr Calvar said, and this tactic was also studied in northern Iraq and in the remote Pankisi Valley in Georgia, once a stronghold of Chechen militants.

Ricin on door handles. No. Too big a molecule, a protein made of two subunits, to pass through skin. Can’t happen.

On the other hand, you can cause a panic if enough people actually believe it does. Which this article is not helping with, particularly.

In any case, if terrorists actually are still entertaining the idea that ricin can be used as a contact poison, it shows they haven’t progressed on the subject in the last fifteen years.

The Wood Green poison plot was also said to have toyed with the idea of mass contact poisoning. A Nivea skin creme pot was found with a liquid extract of tobacco mixed in with it. The idea, one presumes, similar to a nicotine skin patch.

As to ricin, only 20some castor seeds were found, all but one in a jewelry tin.

06.26.16

And if you gaze long into the abyss…

Posted in Bioterrorism, Culture of Lickspittle, Ricin Kooks at 2:51 pm by George Smith

The abyss also gazes into you.

Words to take seriously if you’re reading about the so-called Dark Web.

Tipped by the always timely Pine View Farm, I send you to a tech podcast at the Guardian, entitled “Inside the darknet” by Chips and Everything.

As far as it goes, not bad, although the professed need to have lawyers with you when browsing through TOR made me laugh a bit. Plus, it was my understanding that TOR was at least partially underwritten as a potential tool for whistleblowers in foreign countries.

What the tech podcasters don’t know, or chose not to mention, is that the FBI, as well as British law enforcement, have infiltrated the darknet, posing as buyers as well as sellers in sting operations. It’s an open secret because if you’ve followed the newspaper listings on various criminal cases (just look in the Ricin Kooks tab), you’ll see this has been so.

Most recently, in the news, a handoff from the FBI to the Brits in the case of Mohammed Amer Ali, a Liverpool man, who thought he was buying ricin.

Ali was actually dealing with the FBI:

Mohammed Ammer Ali, 32, carried out extensive research on the “dark web”, eventually arranging to buy 500 milligrams of the lethal substance.

But, unknown to him, his online vendor was in fact an FBI agent who tipped off UK police.

Detectives organised for a “controlled delivery” – with a fake consignment of ricin being sent to Ali’s Liverpool home in February 2015.

The next day, Ali was arrested and his home searched by officers clad in chemical protection suits …

It was a fairly standard case if you follow the newspaper’s timeline. The only stickout point is the nature of the so-called ricin shipment.

The theoretical amount, alleged to be enough to kill 1,400. No such amount of pure ricin has ever been accumulated. It is a number with no traction in reality.


And if perhaps think I’m commenting only from second-hand information, full disclosure: I’ve been expert consultant to a federal public defender’s office in a case that involved sale and purchase of materials vended on the darknet.

04.01.16

Obsolete

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Ricin Kooks at 12:23 pm by George Smith

April Fool’s Day is long obsolete in the country where every day brings a fresh bounty of reality-based jokes. What follies we commit, gifts to everyone.

Everything in this, the honest-to-God truth. Trust me, I’m the professional when it comes to the matter.

07.21.15

FBI and British police team up to bag mentally handicapped man in ricin sting

Posted in Ricin Kooks at 9:13 pm by George Smith

UPDATED

Since last year and perhaps earlier, the FBI has been deep into the so-called dark web with special agents posing as poison peddlers on the digital black markets accessed by the Tor browser.

The effort has generated a few arrests and graphically shown the FBI coordinates with British security when those who think they’re buying something like ricin on the — cough — “dark web” are from England.

Today, from the Mirror:

A married father of two bought enough ricin on the “dark web” to kill 1,400 people, a court has heard.

And Mohammed Ali allegedly hoped to make sure the deadly poison was genuine by testing it on a pet rabbit from a rescue centre.

Prosecutor Sally Howes said Ali asked for the ricin to be sent in five 100mg vials after contacting a US dealer with the name Dark Mart …

But Ali was in fact dealing with an FBI agent who alerted British police.

Ali, the newspaper notes while covering the trial, “has Asperger syndrome …”


From today’s Guardian:

On the third day of his trial on Thursday, jurors heard that Ali was placed into a protective boiler suit and led to a police van after up to 12 officers wearing gas masks raided the flat he shares with his wife and two sons shortly before 8am on 11 February.


The trial judge, Mr Justice Saunders, urged jurors to treat Ali’s remarks “critically” as they were made without the presence of a lawyer. He was then taken to a police station where he answered “no comment” to every question during five days of questioning, the court heard.

Saunders told jurors: “You must bear in mind at all times that it was an interview carried out without the defendant having the benefit of a lawyer there or someone on his behalf during the interview.”

If you read the piece, observers are again informed FBI special agents had mailed the accused man a harmless white powder.

From the Liverpool newspaper:

In October last year, [Ali] began trawling the internet for information on poisons such as abrin, ricin and cyanide, the court has heard.

Then in January, going under the online alias Weirdos 0000, Ali contacted a man called Psychochem on the internet black market and ordered 500mg of ricin – enough to kill 1,400 people, the jury was told.


Today, the jury was told that Ali, a computer software programmer, had displayed many traits of Asperger’s syndrome.

Giving evidence for his defence, clinical psychologist Dr Alison Beck highlighted his obsession from a very early age with computers …

Cross-examining, prosecutor Sarah Howes, QC, suggested: “People can be hooked on their computers and not have anything wrong at all.”

The witness agreed it was “not diagnostic in itself”.

Ms Howes went on: “Is it your assistance to the jury that as far as the offence is concerned it was just his obsession with wanting to deal with the Dark Net that was the end in itself?”

Dr Beck replied: “I think that so far as I understand it, Mr Ali was motivated with pushing the boundaries of what was possible with the technology.

“The relevance of the Dark Net was to procure ricin and that idea was implanted in his brain having watched the series Breaking Bad.”

She told jurors that he had tried to get ricin through “systematic research” which was “entirely consistent with Asperger’s mentality”.

Mohammed Ali is not the first man with Asperger’s to be arrested in connection with ricin.

In 2004, Robert Alberg, a man from Kirkland, Washington, with Asperger’s syndrome was arrested.

From this blog:

And in the earlier part of the decade, an autistic man, Robert Alberg, listed in my article The A-Z of ricin crackpots, purchased five pounds of castor seeds with the intent to make ricin and was arrested.

The court recognized Alberg was profoundly impaired and released him under a five year parole sentence. He promptly went back to trying to obtain castor seeds and was jailed.

Alberg was known in Kirkland, WA, as another outsider musician, one who sang songs, now mounted at YouTube.


An old mention of Alberg, from me, at GlobalSecurity.Org, eleven years ago:

Robert Alberg, a Kirkland, Washington, man with Asperger’s Disorder, recently admitted that he “cooked up” a batch of ricin in his apartment, by way of an article from the Seattle Post. The plea was part of an agreement that gave him five years probation, mental health treatment and placement in a group home for the impaired.

Alberg was arrested earlier in the year by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force acting on a tip from Gurney’s Seed & Nursery, which sold Alberg five pounds of castor seeds. The FBI found castor seed mash at Alberg’s residence and jars labeled “caution ricin poison.”


02.02.15

Gone to Croatan

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Ricin Kooks at 2:16 pm by George Smith

Not exactly.

But did I have you going there for a minute?

Blogs are over, I read somewhere, last week. I figured that’s probably true. And I’m just not designed for the instrumentation of the culture of lickspittle social media; that doesn’t work, either.

I had a few things but threw ’em away.

But today, here’s the latest in America’s strange but true and twisted love of ricin:

A New York City pharmacist who admitted to trying to make weapons-grade ricin and other legal toxins has been sentenced to 6 ½ years in prison.

Jordan Gonzalez was arrested on drug-related charges in 2013. He pleaded guilty in May 2014 to knowingly attempting to develop, produce and possess toxins and to possessing equipment for producing illegal narcotics.

He admitted he had been assembling equipment and materials to produce ricin, abrin and other toxins at his apartments in Jersey City and Manhattan. Gonzalez also obtained weapons, ammunition, body armor and survivalist-themed manuals.

The outcome of this case is bizarre, particularly with regards to the sentence and the claims made concerning it.

Therefore, it deserves a bit of backtrack.

In May of this year the Associated Press reported on a raid and arrest on Gonzalez’ apartment that had been conducted half a year earlier, in November 2013:

A New York City pharmacist has admitted in federal court in New Jersey he was trying to make weapons-grade ricin and other lethal toxins.

Jordan Gonzalez pleaded guilty Thursday to knowingly attempting to develop, produce and possess toxins and to possessing equipment for producing illegal narcotics.

Federal prosecutors in New Jersey say the 34-year-old admitted he had been assembling equipment and materials to produce ricin, abrin and other toxins at his apartments in Jersey City and Manhattan. Prosecutors say Gonzalez also obtained weapons, ammunition, body armor and training manuals for violent confrontation.

The pharmacist was initially charged in November with trying to manufacture a controlled substance after authorities discovered he had made purchases through an online auction of materials associated with the hallucinogen known as MDA.

AP continues, quoting from authorities, that Gonzalez “purchased thousands of seeds containing ricin and abrin, and materials to extract and administer those toxins to others, including filtering equipment, respirators, glass vials, a spraying device and projectile weapons …”

Gonzalez had, it said, also stockpiled survivalist “documents” on the “collapse of the social order.” The latter, common stuff in 2015 America.

However, in the only evidence pictures from 2015 news on his plea agreement and sentencing that I could find last week, there is only this.

Top line, far right, boxes containing a bottle of what looks like hydrogen peroxide, an unused chemical flask for concocting, an unopened plastic-bubble of tools (a set of drill bits) and a few other things, in bags, unidentifiable.

What’s in the bags? Thousands of castor seeds? There is no way to tell.

Also on display, handwritten notes on “recipes for narcotics.” Boil morphine with acetic anhydride” to make heroin is outlined by authorities.

Here is another story, in the Bergen County Record, on the Gonzalez arrest in 2013:

Federal Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI agents swarmed into the Jersey City Heights today, arresting a pharmacist on drug production charges and then discovering a large cache of weapons, ammunition and acid at a storage facility at the Tonnelle Circle, officials said.

Jordan Gonzalez, 33, formerly of Jersey City and now of New York, was arrested after law enforcement agents descended on a Bleecker Street building early this morning, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman announced today.

He is charged with attempting to manufacture methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) and possession of chemicals and materials to manufacture a controlled substance, officials said.

Later, federal agents moved to the U-Haul on Tonnelle Avenue, where a large amount the weapons, ammunition and acid was found …

“Several sources said that when officials first responded to Bleecker Street, investigators were looking into suspicions involving the chemical or biological warfare agent ricin. Federal officials would not confirm that and said they had no information to release on the matter. The charges do no [sic] reflect the discovery of ricin,” continued the AP.

The Department of Justice’s statement on the matter, another case involving a joint anti-terrorism task force, is here.

“From Sept. 18, 2011, through March 19, 2013, Gonzalez purchased thousands of seeds containing ricin and abrin, and materials to extract and administer those toxins to others, including filtering equipment, respirators and glass vials,” it reads.

It continues to elucidate an armory of what would be Kurt Saxon-approved survivalist materials appropriate for the usual stories about the imminent collapse of US civilization and the need to defend oneself, or to have arms of all kinds at the ready to pre-emptively attack enemies.

“On Nov. 8, 2013, while living in Manhattan, Gonzalez purchased one kilogram of sodium azide …” reads the Department of Justice. It’s a compound which is not only an acute poison, but also explosive.

In news stories from 2013 it was said Gonzalez bought his materials, or most of them, on eBay. While I did not check, I doubt reagent grade sodium azide can be bought through it.

The Justice statement maintains thousands of castor seeds as well as rosary peas (for abrin) were recovered in the raids.

“The sentence imposed today on Jordan Gonzalez is an appropriate response to his efforts to manufacture and deploy toxins as deadly weapons,” Paul Fishman, the US attorney in the case, said in the statement. “He was preparing for a violent confrontation that fortunately never occurred …”

Still, the entirety of it and the result, remains unusual.

During the last fifteen years, there have been no fatalities attributed to terrorism (or attempted terrorism, frame-jobs and attention-getting ploys) with ricin in the United States.


From Google, here are the trends in “ricin” used as search over the last decade, tied to headlines, all from results in the United States.

If one pages down, a map of the world, graded by ricin search is shown.

Curiously, Romania is number one.

I was curious about this. Turns out, Romania grows castor and exports the oil for use in organic cosmetics as a premium ingredient, a smoother and skin softener. In Romania, the processing is of “ricin zahar,” or its term for castor oil.

In France, which also lists high in search for ricin, it is known as huile de ricin, where it is also of interest as a beautifying agent.

01.24.15

Ricin sting: The USPS is not behind the TOR network

Posted in Bioterrorism, Ricin Kooks at 2:27 pm by George Smith

America is ricin happy, mesmerized by the mystique and allure of the poison found in castor seeds. Or at least a very small but unique demographic in it is.

The next item shows the FBI, unsurprisingly, is still looking at black market sites on the “Dark Web.” And, in a first, its agents have conducted a ricin sting, posing as a seller of poisons on one of these sites, allegedly netting a man who wished to buy “ricin pills.” For resale.

Reuters:

A Manhattan man tried to buy the biological toxin ricin from an undercover agent posing as a drug vendor on an online black marketplace, U.S. authorities said in criminal charges unsealed on Tuesday.

The man, Cheng Le, has been in federal custody since he was arrested on Dec. 23 …

The criminal complaint against Le said he used an unidentified black marketplace located within the “dark web,” a space on the Internet in which users’ true identities remain hidden while they communicate. Le allegedly contacted an agent who had taken over an online identity that had been previously used by a trafficker in illicit materials and asked to buy several lethal doses of ricin, a highly potent toxin derived from castor oil plant seeds …

The complaint said Le wanted the agent to send the ricin to a shipping store near his apartment where he maintained a postal box. He appeared to have plans to resell the ricin to buyers looking for ways to commit murder without being detected, and later asked the agent to put the ricin into pill form …

The man was “taken into custody after picking up delivery of a fake ricin pill,” reads a report from the Associated Press.

Apparently it is not widely known that when selling things from the “dark web,” the USPS is not part of the TOR network. And that in cyberspace the old aphorism is still true: Nobody knows if you’re a dog, or in this case, the Department of Justice.

« Previous Page« Previous entries « Previous Page · Next Page » Next entries »Next Page »