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What Is Ricin? 4 Arrested in GA Terror Plot

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on November 02, 2011 2:07 PM

What is ricin?

Four members of a Georgia militia movement certainly know, according to the Justice Department. The men had allegedly planned to spread the powerful toxin up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

They also planned to use guns and bombs to kill federal and state officials, including judges, FBI and IRS agents.

Ricin is a natural poison found in castor beans, which are used to make castor oil. The toxin can be easily purified from a manufacturing byproduct and formed into a powder, mist or pellet. It is also dissolvable in water.

Persons who consume or inhale ricin face death.

Dan Roberts, 67, Ray Adams, 65, Frederick Thomas, 73, and Samuel Crump, 68, allegedly wanted to obtain 10 pounds of ricin and disperse it into the air, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. They planned to do so while driving the interstates into Washington, Newark and Atlanta.

Even though ricin is a naturally occurring poison, it is a highly-regulated substance. Federal law prohibits the production and possession of biological agents for use as a weapon. Ricin is a biological agent, as it is a naturally occurring substance capable of causing death.

Ricin possession is generally only legal when necessary for approved medical or scientific research. The militia men appear to have had more nefarious purposes.

Keep all of this in mind if someone were to ask: "What is ricin?" Respond that it's a natural poison that, if possessed, will either get you arrested or leave you dead.

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