Breaking: “100% Ricin” found in Vegas hotel

posted at 8:51 am on February 29, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Police in Las Vegas have begun investigating the discovery of a bag of the deadly poison ricin in n Extended Stay hotel. After a guest brought the bag to the front desk, he and several employees had to go through a decontamination process. Police also found castor beans, the source of ricin, in the same room:

Authorities were called to an Extended Stay America hotel around 3 p.m. after a man brought a bag holding a small container to the manager’s office. The man said he found it while retrieving items from a hotel room.

It’s “100 percent ricin,” said Capt. Joe Lombardo of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. “We don’t know who (the ricin) belongs to or why it would be here at this time.”

Three hotel employees and a fourth person who came to the room to retrieve some items were taken to the hospital as a precaution, Officer Ramon Dendy told CNN. Three police officers who went into the room are also being watched at the hospital. None of the seven have shown symptoms of ricin poisoning, which can include anything from difficulty breathing, fever, cough, nausea and sweating to severe vomiting and dehydration.

“We did have enough ricin to be of concern,” Lombardo said. “At this point, it has been contained and processed where it’s not a threat to anybody.”

Ricin has been used in the past. Suspected Bulgarian assassins shot dissident Georgi Markov with a ricin-loaded pellet from an umbrella gun, and he died four days later. The White House discovered ricin in its mail in 2003, and in the same year a South Carolina mail processing center also found a ricin-laced envelope. In 2006, two other incidents involving ricin occurred at the University of Texas and in Richmond, Virginia. The latter case involved a domestic dispute and an alleged murder plot, but not terrorism.

One would expect a ricin attack in Las Vegas to target a more high-profile hotel than an Extended Stay. The presence of castor beans could indicate that the person who produced the ricin intended to use the hotel as a base of operations for the attack. Why it got left behind without any action is anyone’s guess, but the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI will be looking for the answers.

I’ll update this as more information arises. (via Instapundit)


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Weird for sure. Maybe it was a test to gauge the response.

tx2654 on February 29, 2008 at 8:59 AM

Didn’t the Clinton campaign stay here during the caucus? ;)

fourstringfuror on February 29, 2008 at 9:00 AM

I think the question should be “How much did not get left behind, and where is it?”

Oldnuke on February 29, 2008 at 9:01 AM

Oldnuke, or who stayed in the room long enough to process the ricin from the castor beans?

Or why on earth they still sell castor bean oil for old people to torment themselves and others with (that’s a joke)?

Ban castor bean oil and cod liver oil. It’s for the children.

funky chicken on February 29, 2008 at 9:07 AM

I heard on Fox earlier that the hotel where this was found is located close to a water treatment plant.

Afterimage on February 29, 2008 at 9:08 AM

FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said Friday there does not appear to be a link to terrorists.

Why make a statement like that in the first place? It is self defeating. Everyone should be more alert and aware of their surroundings when something like occurs.

Also, if not related to terrorism, what exactly does the FBI think is a legitimate reason for a ‘container’ of ricin existing in a vacant hotel room?

heroyalwhyness on February 29, 2008 at 9:08 AM

Excuse my ignorance here, but how bad can it be if the man bringing to the desk, the employees, and the police who responded didn’t even get sick? How is this transmitted? Other than the umbrella gun, has it ever been used as weapon?

sweeper on February 29, 2008 at 9:09 AM

When I lived in CA, I found castor beans growing wild behind my house. There are a lot of very poisonous things growing in CA, but castor beans might be the worst.

burt on February 29, 2008 at 9:12 AM

Though this is somewhat worrisome there is no need to panic at this time. Considering ricin’s limited medical value, it could be very possible that this was brought in by some Dr. for medical purposes. Though I would check the record books for any “suspicious” names.

BackseatDriver on February 29, 2008 at 9:14 AM

Have the nutroots labeled this as a McCain campaign stunt yet?

(woo-hoo! first post here!)

Bruce in NH on February 29, 2008 at 9:15 AM

Excuse my ignorance here, but how bad can it be if the man bringing to the desk, the employees, and the police who responded didn’t even get sick? How is this transmitted? Other than the umbrella gun, has it ever been used as weapon?

sweeper on February 29, 2008 at 9:09 AM

Here ya go!
http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/ricin/facts.asp

Pulchritudinous Patriot on February 29, 2008 at 9:19 AM

Did somebody panic and run? Sounds like they were planning to produce the poison and use it elsewhere, not attack that hotel. Extended Stay=time to do processing, with the obvious attempt to keep the evidence out of the primary residence.

TexasDan on February 29, 2008 at 9:19 AM

Though this is somewhat worrisome there is no need to panic at this time. Considering ricin’s limited medical value, it could be very possible that this was brought in by some Dr. for medical purposes. Though I would check the record books for any “suspicious” names.

BackseatDriver on February 29, 2008 at 9:14 AM

Castor beans were found at the scene. I doubt doctors “brew their own” medicinal quality Ricin.

beefytee on February 29, 2008 at 9:19 AM

Have the nutroots labeled this as a McCain campaign stunt yet?

(woo-hoo! first post here!)

Bruce in NH on February 29, 2008 at 9:15 AM

If you work humping robots into your posts, everyone will assume you’re an old timer. Welcome!

TexasDan on February 29, 2008 at 9:20 AM

I wish we’d stop getting the automatic “there’s-no-link-to-terrorism-nothing-to-see-here-don’t-be-alarmed-go-back-to-sleep” line. They plainly said, “We don’t know who (the ricin) belongs to or why it would be here at this time.” So, how about they investigate and then tell us whether or not there were links to terrorism? Try that one. We can handle it.

CP on February 29, 2008 at 9:22 AM

CP on February 29, 2008 at 9:22 AM

I’m sure every casino operator, and a certain Senator, were calling out the dogs. Got to keep those slot machines working. Vegas must go-on.

Limerick on February 29, 2008 at 9:24 AM

burt on February 29, 2008 at 9:12 AM

Castor beans are available commercially for planting. As far as I know they’re not illegal anywhere except Australia. Just follow the link and scroll down to about the fourth entry.

sweeper on February 29, 2008 at 9:09 AM

Here’s a link that will answer most of your questions about ricin.

Oldnuke on February 29, 2008 at 9:26 AM

Can you say “base of operations” – I knew you could.

Someone making the stuff either got tipped off and split, got spooked and split or got nabbed.

Neo on February 29, 2008 at 9:26 AM

I’m betting that the perp isn’t Amish.

Pulchritudinous Patriot on February 29, 2008 at 9:30 AM

Oldnuke on February 29, 2008 at 9:26 AM

Pulchritudinous Patriot on February 29, 2008 at 9:19 AM

Thank You

sweeper on February 29, 2008 at 9:38 AM

I’m sorry. If you have ricin in a seedy motel in Vegas, and there’s evidence of on sight processing…you’re a fucking terrorist.

I don’t care if your daddy was Karl Rove….you’re a terrorist, and should be hung from the neck until dead.

was that too harsh?

beefytee on February 29, 2008 at 9:42 AM

Hey, if they catch the guy and find out that he has several friends with like amounts of a substance that could kill thousands pretty easily… uh… could we pour a little water in his nose to get their plans? No, I guess that would be wrong. Maybe we could quickly check his phone records! Nah, somebody might get sued. Well, let’s just hope these guys have had a change of heart and will love us as soon as Jesus 2.0 takes over.

Sugar Land on February 29, 2008 at 9:51 AM

Hey, if they catch the guy and find out that he has several friends with like amounts of a substance that could kill thousands pretty easily… uh… could we pour a little water in his nose to get their plans? No, I guess that would be wrong. Maybe we could quickly check his phone records! Nah, somebody might get sued. Well, let’s just hope these guys have had a change of heart and will love us as soon as Jesus 2.0 takes over.

Sugar Land on February 29, 2008 at 9:51 AM

You see, I’d just rather slit them from stem to stern and dance a jig on their disemboweled intestines…but I guess that’s one reason I’m not in the Intelligence game.

beefytee on February 29, 2008 at 9:57 AM

Someone got a little carried away with Rainbow Six Vegas 2 coming out in a few weeks…

Mr. Bingley on February 29, 2008 at 9:58 AM

RICIN, YUM! Breakfast of terrorist champions! I wonder how much of the stuff we DIDN’T find?

jimbo2008 on February 29, 2008 at 10:02 AM

News reports here in Vegas were quick to dismiss any terrorist activity… how surprising.

hellyan on February 29, 2008 at 10:02 AM

Let me think, who carries around a bag of ricin? I know where my castor beans are, do you? heh

d1carter on February 29, 2008 at 10:09 AM

was that too harsh?

beefytee on February 29, 2008 at 9:42 AM

No. Welcome to HA.

JiangxiDad on February 29, 2008 at 10:11 AM

Just a hunch, but I’ve always thought Vegas would be the next target of a terror attack. “Sin City” and all…gambling, booze, etc….what better target for Islamic extremists?

And as someone mentioned, why would a whole bag of ricin be left behind? We know that it takes only a minute amount of the stuff to kill someone…I truly hope that bag is all there is. If I were vacationing in Las Vegas right now, I can’t say I wouldn’t be a bit nervous.

JetBoy on February 29, 2008 at 10:24 AM

Just a hunch, but I’ve always thought Vegas would be the next target of a terror attack. “Sin City” and all…gambling, booze, etc….what better target for Islamic extremists?

Plenty of Christian extremists feel the same way.

I think the American people do not give enough “credit” to the possibility of home grown terrorists. Let us not forget, the 2nd deadliest terrorist event in US history was by one of our own.

beefytee on February 29, 2008 at 10:30 AM

Those terrorists can be so sloppy, leaving their wares around. Like lovable Sloppy Sandy Burglar, cuddly wuddly uddly all stuffed with fluff. Of course, it could’ve been some of OJ’s memorabilia.

Western_Civ on February 29, 2008 at 10:38 AM

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Nothing to worry about.

Unless you live, work, or travel in Vegas.

Sebastian on February 29, 2008 at 10:48 AM

Plenty of Christian extremists feel the same way.

I think the American people do not give enough “credit” to the possibility of home grown terrorists. Let us not forget, the 2nd deadliest terrorist event in US history was by one of our own.

beefytee on February 29, 2008 at 10:30 AM

Please. Tim McVeigh might have called himself a Christian extremist, but that doesn’t make him one. Same goes for the drive-by media. He wasn’t Christian. Extremist, yes.

Not saying it couldn’t be by a citizen, but unlikely.

rightside on February 29, 2008 at 10:54 AM

Just a hunch, but I’ve always thought Vegas would be the next target of a terror attack. “Sin City” and all…gambling, booze, etc….what better target for Islamic extremists?

Los Angeles.

Ares on February 29, 2008 at 10:59 AM

Please. Tim McVeigh might have called himself a Christian extremist, but that doesn’t make him one. Same goes for the drive-by media. He wasn’t Christian. Extremist, yes.

Not saying it couldn’t be by a citizen, but unlikely.

rightside on February 29, 2008 at 10:54 AM

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to connect McVeigh to Christianity, just that he was home-grown, AND that plenty of “misguided” Christian extremists would like to have their way with Vegas.

my fault for not more clearly seperating.

beefytee on February 29, 2008 at 11:02 AM

Puhleeze. How many times does the boy have to cry wolf before you ignore him?

A substance found at a motel may be the deadly toxin ricin, but authorities said Friday they don’t believe it was intended for a terrorist attack. Lab tests on the substance were pending and seven people were taken to hospitals as a precaution.

“This event does not appear to be terrorism related,” FBI spokesman Richard Kolko in Washington said Friday morning.

corona on February 29, 2008 at 11:11 AM

Sounds like this terrorist should have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. Maybe the dumbass wouldn’t have forgotten his ricin.

pistolero on February 29, 2008 at 11:14 AM

I heard on Fox earlier that the hotel where this was found is located close to a water treatment plant.

Ricin isn’t very water-soluble. And you’d need a lot of it to contaminate a water supply such that it’d actually do damage to people. That isn’t a very likely scenario.

Also, if not related to terrorism, what exactly does the FBI think is a legitimate reason for a ‘container’ of ricin existing in a vacant hotel room?

Murder.

News reports here in Vegas were quick to dismiss any terrorist activity… how surprising.

Well yeah, because terrorism doesn’t work if you aren’t terrorized. Vegas is a vacation destination. Whether it is terrorism or just murder doesn’t really matter as far as law enforcement is concerned. But if you prance out the “terrorism” word, tourists stop coming to Vegas, which isn’t good.

Mark Jaquith on February 29, 2008 at 11:47 AM

If the left follows it usual logic, the left will attempt to scapegoat the castor plant. They will claim that banning castor plants and this mess will go away. There is the little detail that Castor plant is native to the region that the terrorists come from. And then there is the little problem of it being an invasive species in the American Southwest.

thuja on February 29, 2008 at 11:53 AM

Didn’t the Clinton campaign stay here during the caucus? ;)

fourstringfuror on February 29, 2008 at 9:00 AM

Are you kidding? Someone in the Clinton campaign ran up a $25 K bill at the Belaggio.

carbon_footprint on February 29, 2008 at 12:01 PM

Excuse my ignorance here, but how bad can it be if the man bringing to the desk, the employees, and the police who responded didn’t even get sick? How is this transmitted? Other than the umbrella gun, has it ever been used as weapon?

sweeper on February 29, 2008 at 9:09 AM

Being in the Environmental, Health and Safety field working mainly in the chemical industry (most of my background is in hazardous materials management/emergency response) there are several factors that go into answering your question:

1) The route of entry the substance needs to take, e.g., inhalation, ingestion, or absorption/injection through the skin. Some substances are more hazardous when inhaled (like asbestos) while some are more hazardous when absorbed through the skin or ingested.

2) Exposure, you have to be exposed to the substance to have a response, in this situation the person bringing the ricin to the front office seems to not have been exposed. I’m not certain but I imagine the route of exposure for ricin would be inhalation, injection, and ingestion. Skin contact (unless the ricin contacted an open wound or sore) wouldn’t be a route of entry.

3) Dose/Response, you have to have a sufficient dose to have a response. While ricin is very deadly in small amounts you still have to have a sufficient exposure (dose) to get a response (sick or dead).

The steps the authorities had taken (decon) are standard procedure in a hazmat incident. This is not to say some of those that came into contact with the ricin (in particular the person bringing the material to the front desk and the person taking the material at the front desk) weren’t exposed and won’t show signs and symptoms of exposure to ricin later, that all depends on the items I pointed out above.

Also, ricin is good for killing a small number of people you have direct contact with (like injecting a ricin laced pellet into someone’s body) but to weaponize it to kill numerous people is much more difficult when you start getting into how to deliver it in an aerosol form in sufficient quantities and concentrations for people to get a sufficient dose.

I hope that answers some of your questions.

Liberty or Death on February 29, 2008 at 12:19 PM

“We don’t know who (the ricin) belongs to or why it would be here at this time.”
If they don’t have a good idea who the ricin ‘belongs to’, why it was there, then they’re dangerous in their stupidity. Lock them up with the ricin.

Christine on February 29, 2008 at 12:19 PM

Over at FR they are saying that one person has fallen onto a coma, and three rooms have been quarantined.

I can’t find any links to verify the coma claim.

Step Away From the Buffet.

Dorvillian on February 29, 2008 at 12:27 PM

It is also possible that the ricin may have been intended for someone’s wealthy spouse in order to collect insurance money. 24-hour rule, folks!

Sekhmet on February 29, 2008 at 1:10 PM

I’m betting that the perp isn’t Amish.

Pulchritudinous Patriot on February 29, 2008 at 9:30 AM

I’d say that’s a safe bet. What I want to know is if there is any connection to the people who were declaring war and chanting “Death to America” just over two weeks ago…

Zionists, if you want this kind of open war, let the whole world listen: Let this war be open.”

The thousands of black-clad mourners in the ceremony hall raised their fists in the air, chanting, “At your orders, Nasrallah.”

“He’s not the first martyr, nor will he be the last on this path,” Mottaki said, reading a statement of condolences from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with an interpreter translating into Arabic. “There will be hundreds and millions more” like him.

Afterward, the coffin was carried outside through the crowds of mourners, who marched with it to a nearby cemetery, praying aloud, as some chanted “Death to Israel” and “Death to America.”

“We have lost a hero but this will not shake our will,” said one Hezbollah guerrilla who would identifyd himself only by his first name, Hassan. The 45-year-old said Mughniyeh had been his commander in south Lebanon during the 2006 war. “We are all Imad Mughniyeh.”

Another mourner, Hassan Awdeh, said Mughniyeh’s death “only strengthens us and gives us zeal to complete our path.”

So Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is actively working on developing nuclear weapons, sends a statement of condolences saying, “He’s not the first martyr, nor will he be the last on this path. There will be hundreds and millions more” like him.

People, be prepared for a nuclear strike on Israel and/or the United States. Let their be no misunderstanding of the “path” that Ahmadinejad refers to.

Unfortunately, Mutually Assured Destruction is not a deterrent to Ahmadinejad…it’s an incentive. Sad but true. Welcome to the end times. Be ready.

Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.

Red Pill on February 29, 2008 at 1:19 PM

Man in Hotel Is in a coma.

Thanks, FR

Dorvillian on February 29, 2008 at 1:33 PM

7 people were rushed to the hospital as a precaution after a guest brought a vile of ricin to the front desk.

Everyone that might have been in contact were taken to the hospital.

3 of the people taken in for testing were police officers.
3 of the people taken in for testing were hotel employees.
1 other person was taken in.

Here is where it gets weird: The man that found the ricin was not in a coma – that’s why we know about the ricin in the first place.

The man that is in a coma was found incapacitated in his room.

So either the math is off, the man that brought the vile to the front desk was an employee, or there was ricin found in more than one room.

Three rooms have been quarantined, so far.

Dorvillian on February 29, 2008 at 1:59 PM

Breaking News

Now the entire story has changed.

A man found a vile of powder in his room? Not anymore.
Castor beans were found at the scene? Can’t be.

Now a package was mailed to the hotel that contained some traces of ricin. How anyone noticed that, I have no idea.

What is going on? Where all the original stories lies? You know…the ones with the police officer quotes about significant amounts and viles and beans?

Curious.

Dorvillian on February 29, 2008 at 2:14 PM

Let their there be no misunderstanding of the “path” that Ahmadinejad refers to.

Red Pill on February 29, 2008 at 2:21 PM

dorvillian, you can’t be surprised when the initial story turns out to be wrong. it always does. and it’s not a case of ‘lies’ but usually people with incomplete/sketchy info getting quoted about stuff as it’s happening. and then we all have fun talking out our asses about it as things change.

Mr. Bingley on February 29, 2008 at 2:43 PM

The story in the above referenced link is way off.

I can’t imagine where they get their info.

As of now: Several viles of ricin found. Man in coma was found in his room two weeks ago. There was also a dead dog in his room.

He was evicted for not paying his rent (on account of the coma) so another man came to collect his belongings. That’s when the ricin was discovered.

Certainly a strange story, but I doubt people will be dropping dead all over Nevada in the next couple of hours.

Mystery solved.

Dorvillian on February 29, 2008 at 3:26 PM

1. Mob hit?

2. They found it in the room because that’s were it was being refined? (hence the beans in the room)

3. Who was staying at the hotel that should have been home with his wife?

4. It’s actually were the letter to The White House was mailed from. I mean we all know how hotel cleanning staff is.

5. Keith Richards was trying something new.

- The Cat

MirCat on February 29, 2008 at 3:49 PM

FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said Friday there does not appear to be a link to terrorists.

Apparently there must have been evidence that the people who left the ricin were benevolent poisoners: perhaps one of the well-meaning ZPG crowd….

landlines on February 29, 2008 at 4:04 PM

Why didn’t the clearners find it? Who was the last person who rented the room? How long ago was that? Why was this person in the room retrieving somthing now? Was he retriving ricin??

Somthing is missing in this story, please let us know if you find more any more detail Ed.

allrsn on February 29, 2008 at 6:27 PM

I keep hearing about this story on the news and it’s all total rubbish.

I’ve eaten plenty of stuff with rice in and I’m fine.

uptight on February 29, 2008 at 11:40 PM

Mother Nature is a curious lot is she not.

Innocent looking Castor Beans holding the chemicals when properly used can put Cancer into remission; but used improperly can put human life into complete remission.

Prayers to those who entered the room without knowing what was possibly in the air. Also, those who are responsible may never be found because they may turn up as obituary statistics due to improper handling on their part.

MSGTAS on March 1, 2008 at 10:01 AM

uh, pure Ricin doesnt just put itself together. This story is in its infancy. To jump and say its not terrorist within the hour of it happening was so premature and obviously a call to stop any panic.

johnnyU on March 2, 2008 at 11:12 AM

You may recall not too long ago at the hotel New York New York a car bomb device exploded and I believe killed a guy.
The hotel in question here I believe is Excalibur and note they are both owned by Mandelay Bay corp. Of course though they own half the strip, so its hard to not have something happen on one of their properties just by chance, with all due respect to Mandelay Bay.

johnnyU on March 2, 2008 at 12:19 PM

To jump and say its not terrorist within the hour of it happening was so premature and obviously a call to stop any panic.

johnnyU on March 2, 2008 at 11:12 AM

This probably happens more than any of us care to know.

labrat on March 2, 2008 at 4:49 PM

I’ve eaten plenty of stuff with rice in and I’m fine.

uptight on February 29, 2008 at 11:40 PM

Heh. Are you from Rio Linda by any chance? :)

labrat on March 2, 2008 at 4:53 PM