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)