Foreign National Pleads Guilty to Mailing Ricin to President of the United States in 2020
DOJ Press Release Number: 23-89 - Topic(s): Domestic Terrorism National Security
Defendant Also Mailed Threatening Ricin Letters to Texas Law Enforcement Officials
A dual citizen of Canada and France pleaded guilty today to sending a threatening letter containing homemade ricin to then-President Donald J. Trump at the White House in September 2020, and eight similar letters, each containing ricin, to Texas State law enforcement officials.
According to court documents, Pascale Cecile Veronique Ferrier, 55, admitted in the plea agreements that she made ricin at her residence in Quebec, Canada, in September 2020. Ricin is a deadly poison made from castor beans. Ferrier placed the ricin in envelopes containing letters she wrote to then-President Trump at the White House and to eight Texas State law enforcement officials.
Ferrier was detained in the State of Texas for around 10 weeks in the spring of 2019, and she believed that the law enforcement officials were connected to her period of detention. In early September 2020, Ferrier used the Twitter social media service to propose that someone should “please shoot [T]rump in the face.” The letters in the envelopes contained threatening language, and the letter addressed to then-President Trump instructed him to “[g]ive up and remove [his] application for this election.” Ferrier mailed each of the threatening ricin letters from Canada to the United States. Ferrier then drove a car from Canada to the Peace Bridge Border Crossing in Buffalo, New York, on Sept. 20, 2020, where border patrol officials found her in possession of a loaded firearm, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and other weapons.
Ferrier pleaded guilty to prohibitions with respect to biological weapons before the Honorable Dabney L. Friedrich of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Ferrier also pleaded guilty to eight additional violations of prohibitions with respect to biological weapons in a case brought against her in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, and consented to the transfer of that case to the District of Columbia for plea and sentencing.
The Honorable Dabney L. Friedrich scheduled the sentencing hearing for April 26. Ferrier will be sentenced to 262 months of imprisonment if the court accepts the plea agreements. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia, and Acting Assistant Director John Morales of the FBI Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate made the announcement.
The FBI Washington and San Antonio Field Offices investigated the case with valuable assistance provided by the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Friedman for the District of Columbia; Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rob Jones, David Coronado, and David Lindenmuth for the Southern District of Texas; and Trial Attorney David Smith of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section are prosecuting the case.
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