HOUSTON (CBS Houston) A Mississippi man was arrested Wednesday, accused of sending ricin-tainted letters to President Barack Obama and a senator.
Federal officials arrested 45-year-old Paul Kevin Curtis, just after 5 p.m. EST at his apartment in Corinth, near the Tennessee state line; Corinth is approximately 100 miles east of Memphis. Authorities did not disclose where Curtis was being held.
As officials waited for definitive tests on the letters to President Obama and Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss, it is a known fact that preliminary evaluations can often show false positives for ricin.
The letters intended for President Obama and Senator Wicker were intercepted before reaching the White House or Senate.
Ricin is a highly toxic protein generated from the pressed seeds of the castor-oil plant. According to the Centers for Disease Control, if the castor beans are consumed, the released ricin can cause injury.
The CDC also states that ricin “…can be in the form of a powder, a mist, or a pellet, or it can be dissolved in water or weak acid.”
In terms of how ricin affects the body, the CDC states that ricin can get inside the cells of a person’s body, preventing those cells from generating much-needed proteins. Without the proteins, cells die. “Eventually this is harmful to the whole body, and death may occur,” as stated from the CDC.