Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Kentucky "Anthrax" Letters Contained Artificial Sweetener

Posted today on Global Security Newswire:

A powder found in threatening letters that reached a number of federal sites in Kentucky on Monday -- including the offices of four U.S. congressmen -- appears to have been artificial sweetener, the Lexington Herald Leader reported (see GSN, July 7).

U.S. Representatives Brett Guthrie, John Yarmuth, Geoff Davis, and Ed Whitfield received envelopes containing a powdery substance along with letters claiming the material was anthrax. Similar letters arrived at three federal courthouses in the state.

A courthouse and post office in Pikeville County were shut down for several hours, and several people underwent medical checks after coming into contact with the white material. The federal courthouse clerks' office and a U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau office in London also received suspicious envelopes, causing the temporary closing of the courthouse.

Authorities believe an inmate at Kentucky's Big Sandy federal prison mailed between 25 and 50 threatening letters, lacing them them with a popular sweetener rather than anthrax, according to U.S. Marshal Mike Klein.

It was not immediately known whether the same person sent all the letters that turned up this week (Estep/Hjalmarson, Lexington Herald-Leader, July 7).

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