U.K. citizen sentenced to eight years in ricin case

A computer programmer in the United Kingdom was sentenced last week to serve eight years in prison for attempting to purchase ricin toxin.

The individual attempted to purchase the toxin through what is known as the dark web and had made a connection with a seller who was actually an Federal Bureau of Investigation agent. He had agreed to purchase 500 milligrams of the toxin in powdered form for approximately $500.

According to a report from Independent, computer analysis of the purchaser's computer history indicated research on various toxins including cyanide, ricin and abrin in October 2014. In a discussion with the seller, he indicated interest in bulk orders and repeat purchases in addition to its shelf life and testing processes.

The transaction took place between Jan. 10 and Feb. 12 of this year. The judge presiding over the case, Justice John Saunders, commended law enforcement in both the U.S. and the U.K for their work and ensuring that the toxin did not make its way to the purchaser.

Ricin toxin is highly lethal in small doses and it prevents the cells of the body from making necessary proteins. The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention state that death from ricin poisoning can take place between 36 and 72 hours after exposure.

Organizations in this Story

International Society for Infectious Diseases

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