Envelope addressed to White House found to contain ricin

President Donald Trump departs the White House
President Donald Trump departs the White House

US officials have intercepted an envelope addressed to the White House that contained the poison ricin, a law enforcement official said.

The letter was intercepted at a government facility that screens mail addressed to the White House and President Donald Trump.

A preliminary investigation indicated it tested positive for ricin, a poison found naturally in castor beans, the official said.

Federal investigators were working to determine where the enveloped originated from and who posted it. The FBI, the Secret Service and the US Postal Inspection Service were leading the investigation.

In a statement, the FBI said agents were working to investigate "a suspicious letter received at a US government mail facility" and that there is "no known threat to public safety".

A Navy veteran was arrested in 2018 and confessed to sending envelopes to Mr Trump and members of his administration that contained the substance from which ricin is derived.

Authorities said the man, William Clyde Allen III, sent the envelopes with ground castor beans to the president, FBI director Christopher Wray, along with then-defence secretary Jim Mattis, then-CIA director Gina Haspel, Admiral John Richardson, who at the time was the Navy's top officer, and then-Air Force secretary Heather Wilson. The letters were intercepted and no one was hurt.

In 2014, a Mississippi man was sentenced to 25 years in prison after sending letters dusted with ricin to President Barack Obama and other officials.