LITTLE ROCK—Cody Hiland, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, and Diane Upchurch, Special Agent in Charge of the Little Rock Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), announced Wednesday the indictment of Alexander Joseph Jordan, 21, of Little Rock, for possessing the deadly biological toxin ricin.
Jordan was initially arrested on a federal complaint on February 27, 2018. A federal grand jury returned an indictment against Jordan on Wednesday for one count of knowingly possessing ricin without obtaining a registration, as required by the Public Health Service Act. Jordan is currently in federal custody and will be seen by a United States Magistrate Judge at a later date.
“Any time there is information that a deadly substance like ricin is present in our communities, our law enforcement partners will work together to take immediate and decisive action to eliminate the threat,” Hiland said. “Now that the immediate threat to public safety has been contained, we turn our attention to prosecuting the person responsible for creating this dangerous situation.” According to the complaint affidavit, late on February 22, paramedics and police officers were dispatched to Jordan’s residence on Horseshoe Loop in Little Rock following a 9-1-1 call that described Jordan in distress. In the early morning hours of February 23, officers transported Jordan to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), where he stated that he had ingested ricin. Ricin is a highly toxic, naturally occurring protein that is produced in the seeds of the castor oil plant. A dose of purified ricin powder the size of a few grains of common table salt can kill an adult human.
Jordan told police officers at the hospital that he produced two mason jars of the ricin mixture, and the ricin and production materials were still at his house. He stated that he learned how to make the substance on the internet and got the idea from watching the television show Breaking Bad. Jordan said he combined ingredients needed to make the ricin in a blender. Little Rock Fire Department (LRFD) hazardous material (HAZMAT) teams were immediately dispatched to the residence. At the residence LRFD located two small mason jars containing a white substance.
Later on February 23, members of the FBI and Arkansas National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction, 61st Civil Support Team (CST), executed a federal search warrant at Jordan’s residence. There they located, in addition to the mason jars, a blender in a trash can. Tests conducted by the clinical microbiology supervisor at the public health laboratory at the Arkansas Department of Health on samples from the blender and both mason jars confirmed positive for ricin.
Agents also recovered an Amazon.com receipt for 50 castor beans and paperwork that appeared to be a shopping list and instructions for ricin production.
“Jordan produced and possessed ricin, a deadly and highly toxic substance, which could have severely affected the safety of our citizens,” SAC Upchurch said. “We appreciate the immediate response of our law enforcement partners and their combined and committed efforts to contain the threat and safeguard our community.”
A violation of possessing a select agent, in this case ricin, under Title 18, United States Code, Section 175b(c) and 42 CFR § 73.3, carries a maximum penalty of not more than five years’ imprisonment, not more than a $250,000 fine, and not more than three years of supervised release.
Multiple agencies, led by the FBI, assisted with this public health issue, including LRFD HAZMAT Team, Arkansas National Guard 61st CST, Saline County Sheriff’s Office, Arkansas State Police, Arkansas Department of Health, and UAMS Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Stacy Williams is prosecuting the case.
Press Release – U.S. Attorney’s Office