Anthrax hoax, bomb threat hits U.S. Court in Camden, New Jersey

An anthrax hoax and bomb scare recently shut down the U.S. District Court building in Camden, New Jersey.

Last week, a mail clerk at the building opened an envelope containing a letter and a suspicious white powder. U.S. Marshal for New Jersey Juan Matos said that the letter claimed there was a bomb in the building and that the included powder was anthrax, according to

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation was called to the scene to look into the incident. The letter is currently undergoing further forensic analysis at a state police laboratory in Hamilton.

The building was immediately placed on lockdown and a K-9 unit checked the area for explosives. None were found. Initial testing on the white powder returned negative for anthrax or other potentially dangerous agents.

Anthrax hoaxes have become relatively commonplace in the United States since a series of actual anthrax mailings were carried out in 2001. The attacks killed five people and infected 17 others. The FBI has asserted that Bruce Ivins, a biodefense researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases was responsible.

Such incidents were reported sporadically in the 1990s, but since the 2001, their number has proliferated. In the five months after the first of the 2001 attacks, the FBI reported that 40 individuals had been charged with anthrax hoaxes and threats.