A New York man will be arraigned on Friday after a federal grand jury returned an indictment on Tuesday against him for allegedly attempting to access ricin and to commit postal fraud.
Cheng Le was arrested on Dec. 23 by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) personnel after he allegedly tried to acquire ricing using a part of the Internet that is not accessible through conventional means.
“In the shadows of the Dark Web, criminals hide behind a veil of anonymity, sniffing out hidden opportunities to buy and sell illegal and potentially dangerous merchandise," George Venizelos, assistant director-in-charge of the FBI's New York office, said. "As alleged, in this case, activity carried out in the marketplace served as a conduit for Le to obtain ricin. In his desire to acquire this potentially deadly toxin, he picked his own poison and now faces the consequences of the justice system."
Ricin is a highly toxic compound with no known antidote.
The indictment states that an FBI agent acting as an online covert employee (OCE) was contacted by an individual who wanted to purchase the toxin. Over the course of their discussion, the OCE was asked to send ricin to a post office box that belonged to Le.
Le could face life imprisonment if convicted of attempting to acquire a biological toxin to use as a weapon, plus an additional five years for using a fictitious name in order to conduct illegal business practices through the U.S. Postal Service.