Pharmacist Sentenced to 78 Months in Prison for Attempting to Weaponize Deadly Toxins and Possessing Narcotics Manufacturing Equipment
TRENTON, NJ—A licensed pharmacist was sentenced today to 78 months in prison for attempting to weaponize the lethal toxins ricin and abrin and for possessing a prohibited flask intending to use it to manufacture illegal narcotics, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Jordan S. Gonzalez, 34, of New York, formerly of Jersey City, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper to an information charging him with the offenses.
“The sentence imposed today on Jordan Gonzalez is an appropriate response to his efforts to manufacture and deploy toxins as deadly weapons,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said. “He was preparing for a violent confrontation that fortunately never occurred because the excellent response by our law enforcement partners stopped him before anyone was hurt.”
“Jordan Gonzalez had in his possession the ingredients and equipment necessary to manufacture dangerous biological toxins and explosives, as well as, a cache of weapons and ammunition,” FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Eric Welling said. “Due to the tireless efforts of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Drug Enforcement Administration, the imminent threat posed by Gonzalez did not become a reality. Prevention is the FBI’s priority, so I would like to remind the citizens of New Jersey to remain vigilant and contact the FBI or their nearest law enforcement department if they see or hear anything suspicious.”
“Mr. Gonzalez’ sentencing sends a clear message that attempting to produce weapons of mass destruction cannot be tolerated,” Carl J. Kotowski, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division, said. “The dedicated men and women of DEA will continue to work tirelessly to keep criminals such as Mr. Gonzalez from being a threat to society.”
According documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
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. Even small doses of ricin and abrin are lethal to humans if ingested, inhaled or injected—causing death within 36 to 72 hours from the time of exposure. There are no known antidotes.
Gonzalez also obtained conventional weapons, such as crossbows, spraying devices, and other items to deliver the toxins. He admitted he attempted to make these toxins in preparation for future confrontations with others. Gonzalez also obtained firearms, body armor, and precursor materials for the manufacture of military-grade explosives and improvised explosive devices. Gonzalez made the purchases through an online marketplace through which third-party vendors in the United States and abroad sell products to members of the public. Gonzalez learned how to extract toxins from the seeds and about methods to administer them to other persons from manuals he acquired. He also acquired manuals for making improvised explosive devices and synthesizing explosive compounds.
On Nov. 8, 2013, while living in Manhattan, Gonzalez purchased one kilogram of sodium azide, a toxic, gas-forming compound that can explode at high temperatures and is lethal if ingested or absorbed through the skin. Law enforcement officers intercepted the delivery during the investigation.
On Nov. 14, 2013, Gonzalez was arrested in Jersey City and search warrants were executed at three locations he used: apartments in Manhattan and Jersey City and a storage unit in Jersey City. Collectively, material collected through the searches included thousands of seeds containing ricin and abrin; explosive precursor chemicals; manuals related to toxins, explosives and improvised explosive devices; approximately 1,000 rounds of ammunition, handguns, components for assault rifles, and high-capacity magazines; a bulletproof vest; and books and documents related to the collapse of social order and techniques for surviving in a lawless environment.
Gonzalez also acquired manuals for synthesizing controlled substances, including methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), also known as “ecstasy.” He bought and had delivered to the Jersey City apartment a three-neck round-bottom flask, gel capsules and an encapsulating machine, as well as precursor chemicals used in the manufacture of MDA and MDMA. Possession of that type of flask is prohibited if intended for use in the manufacturing of controlled substances.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Cooper sentenced Gonzalez to five years of supervised release.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Welling in Newark, and the DEA, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Kotowski in New Jersey, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. He also thanked members of FBI Newark’s Joint Terrorism Task Force; FBI’s New York Office and Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate and Laboratory Division; DEA’s New York Division; and the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness for their work on the case; as well as the police and fire departments of Jersey City and the City of New York, as well as the New Jersey State Police for their assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant United States Attorneys L. Judson Welle and Francisco J. Navarro of the U.S. Attorney’s Office National Security Unit in Newark. Valuable support was provided by attorneys of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division—Counterterrorism Section.