New Jersey Pharmacist Admits Attempting to Weaponize Deadly Toxins and Possessing Narcotics Manufacturing Equipment
WASHINGTON—A licensed pharmacist pleaded guilty in federal court today to attempting to develop, produce, and possess the potentially deadly toxins ricin and abrin for use as weapons and to possessing equipment for producing illegal narcotics, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Jordan S. Gonzalez, 34, of New York and formerly of Jersey City, New Jersey, entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper in Trenton federal court.
“Jordan Gonzalez admitted today that he worked to manufacture and deploy deadly toxins, stockpiled weapons and body armor, and acquired manuals training him for violent confrontation,” said U.S. Attorney Fishman. “We all have seen the devastation possible when these behaviors go unchecked. With today’s guilty plea, Jordan Gonzalez will face justice and will not be a threat to society.”
“The overriding focus of the FBI’s WMD Directorate and the primary focus of our overall efforts is prevention,” said FBI Newark Division Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford. “To make this happen, we pull together various resources from the FBI and work closely with our law enforcement partners. In this case, the FBI worked swiftly and tirelessly with our partners to prevent and neutralize all threats posed by this defendant.”
Carl J. Kotowski, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division, said, “The men and women of DEA are dedicated to protecting the citizens of this nation. This investigation reveals how DEA and its law enforcement partners worked together to prevent Mr. Gonzalez from doing harm to the citizens of our communities.”
According documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From September 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, glass vials, a spraying device, and projectile weapons including a crossbow pistol. Gonzalez also purchased materials for making RDX, an explosive compound used in military and commercial demolition applications. Gonzalez made the purchases through an online third-party vendor marketplace, and all the items were delivered to him at his Jersey City apartment.
Gonzalez learned how to extract toxins from the seeds and about deployment methods from manuals he acquired. He also kept manuals teaching how to make improvised explosive devices and synthesize explosive compounds, including RDX.
On November 8, 2013, while living in New York, 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 November 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 one thousand 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 has been in custody since his arrest.
Even small doses of ricin and abrin are potentially lethal to humans if ingested, inhaled, or injected—causing death within 36 to 72 hours from the time of exposure.
During his guilty plea, Gonzalez admitted that acquiring this knowledge and these materials were substantial steps toward developing ricin and abrin as weapons and that he acquired all the materials—including the firearms, ammunition, and body armor—in anticipation of using them in confrontations with other people in the future.
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.
The toxin charge to which Gonzalez pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of any term of years or life in prison and a $250,000 fine. The narcotics charge carries a maximum potential penalty of four years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is currently scheduled for September 17, 2014.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Ford in Newark, and the DEA, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Kotowski in New Jersey, with the investigation leading to today’s plea. He also thanked members of FBI Newark’s Joint Terrorism Task Force; FBI’s New York Office and Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate 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 U.S. Attorney L. Judson Welle of the U.S. Attorney’s Office National Security Unit and Assistant U.S. Attorney Francisco J. Navarro of the Office’s Criminal Division, both in Newark. Valuable support was provided by attorneys of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division-Counterterrorism Section.