Home Seattle Press Releases 2013 FBI Arrests Individual in Connection with Threatening Letter Containing Ricin

FBI Arrests Individual in Connection with Threatening Letter Containing Ricin
Envelope Received in Spokane Post Office

FBI Seattle May 22, 2013
  • Public Affairs Specialist Ayn Dietrich-Williams (206) 622-0460

This afternoon, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested Matthew Ryan Buquet, 38, in connection with a recent letter sent to a federal district court judge in Spokane. He appeared in federal court at approximately 4:30 p.m. today to face the one-count grand jury indictment for mailing threatening communications.

The letter was received Tuesday, May 14, 2013, at the U.S. Post Office on W. Riverside Avenue in Spokane, Washington. During a screening procedure, a court employee discovered that the envelope contained a suspicious substance. Subsequent analysis performed by the Spokane Regional Health District and the FBI at the National Bioforensic Analysis Center (NBFAC) confirmed the substance in the letter contained active ricin toxin.

Ricin is a poison found naturally in castor beans. Ricin poisoning can occur when the substance enters the body through ingestion, inhalation, or injection. To date, the FBI is not aware of any illness as a result of exposure to the letter. Public health questions should be directed to the Washington Department of Health at 800-525-0127.

“Our coordinated team acted swiftly to resolve a potentially dangerous situation and continues working tirelessly around-the-clock to investigate the origin of the letter and to address any remaining, potential risks,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Laura M. Laughlin of the FBI Seattle Division. “The FBI is grateful for the partnership on the team by Inland Northwest Joint Terrorism Task Force members, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Protective Service, and the Spokane Police Department.”

Bradley J. Kleinknecht, Inspector in Charge of the Seattle Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, added, “The U.S. Postal Inspection Service quickly deployed resources dedicated to find those responsible for this suspicious mailing to ensure the safety of U.S. Postal Service employees and the American public.”

The FBI and USPIS wish to thank all their vital partners: the Spokane Police Department; the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office; the United States Marshals Service; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Spokane Regional Health District; the General Services Administration; the United States Postal Service; and the Washington National Guard 10th Civil Support Team.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington made no comment on whether additional charges may be sought in connection with the FBI investigation.

An individual charged with a criminal offense is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Press Release - May 30, 2013: Additional Threatening Letters Now Part of Spokane, Washington Ricin Investigation