TOXIC SHOCK: Deadly Ricin Found In Vegas Motel

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LAS VEGAS SUN: Ricin, a deadly toxin, was discovered in a room at a weekly motel off Valley View Boulevard and Flamingo Road this afternoon. Hotel employees thought the substance looked suspicious and called police, who responded with the Clark County Fire Department. Presumptive testing quickly revealed the substance was ricin and police shut down the property.

Ricin is derived from castor beans and can be deadly in small quantities, said Metro Sergeant Josephricin1.jpg Lombardo, head of the department’s Homeland security unit. It is used in cancer research, but is illegal to produce for any other reason. Ricin [pictured, right] can be delivered in a mist, a pellet or can be dissolved in water or weak acid, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

The toxin gets inside cells of a human body and prevents the cells from making vital protein. As little as 500 micrograms — an amount that fits on the head of a pin — can kill an adult. It is not known how much was found in the hotel room. Officers found the substance in a small vile along with actual castor beans, Lombardo said. MORE

ricinterrorcropped.jpgLAS VEGAS REVIEW JOURNAL: The last time Las Vegas police dealt with ricin was in 2003, when a 60-year-old former gaming executive and chemist killed himself with the agent. The man, Tomoo Okada, told emergency responders that he had injected himself with the deadly poison, which prompted two hospital emergency rooms to be shut down for about three hours. On Thursday, 30-year-old Charlie Aitken, who was visiting Las Vegas from Nova Scotia, Canada, for the first time, said he was told by police to leave his room at the Extended Stay America about 3 p.m. As he walked out, he saw men suiting up in hazardous materials outfits. “It was like, ‘Welcome to Vegas!,’ ” Aitken said. MORE

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