Ricin possibly found in Las Vegas motel
AS VEGAS ” Laboratory results were expected today after the toxin ricin was found in a package at a motel Thursday and seven people were taken to hospitals, authorities said.
Three motel employees and another person were quarantined and decontaminated at the Extended Stay America motel several blocks west of the Las Vegas Strip, then taken to local hospitals for further testing, police Officer Ramon Denby said.
All appeared to be in good condition, Denby said. Three police officers who had been exposed were also taken to hospitals.
Results of tests on the substance by the Centers for Disease Control and a local lab were expected today, Denby said.
Investigators did not immediately believe the substance was intended for an attack.
“This event does not appear to be terrorism related,” FBI spokesman Richard Kolko in Washington said Friday morning. Kolko said the FBI was assisting local police in the investigation.
Officers were called to the motel on Thursday and retrieved a package from the motel manager that was determined to be a chemical or controlled substance, Denby said.
The man who brought the substance to the manager told police he found it in a suite and it did not belong to him, Las Vegas police Capt. Joseph Lombardo said at a news conference Thursday night. Lombardo did not identify the man.
Two preliminary tests indicated the substance contained ricin, Denby said. Homeland Security officials joined Las Vegas police in the investigation.
“Ricin has no medical uses other than cancer research,” Lombardo said. “An individual citizen other than being involved in cancer research or cancer prevention would not have any legal means or proper means of having that.”
Police cordoned off the area and isolated the motel room where the substance was found.
It takes between six and eight hours for someone exposed to ricin to show signs of contamination, Denby said.
A woman who answered the phone at the motel declined to comment.
Officials from the Las Vegas Health District, a hazardous materials team and the National Guard were at the scene.
Ricin is made from the waste left over from processing castor beans, and can be extremely lethal. As little as 500 micrograms, or about the size of the head of a pin, can kill a human, according to the CDC Web site.
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