Local News

Small Drug Poses A Big Risk to Law Enforcement

Posted September 29, 1998

— Wednesday night Durham officers were on high alert to take caution when busting drug pushers and seizing their dope. Drug dealers are turning to chemical warfare to protect their turf. Their goal is to stop cops dead in the their tracks.

The drug is called Ricin and is a powder that is barely visible, but it can kill almost instantaneously. It is the third-most toxic substance on earth.

"We have so many things to contend with," Durham County Sheriff's Lt. Bill Wrenn said. "There are so many danger out there. There are the obvious things like somebody might shoot you."

With Ricin on the street, deputies know the dangers they face go beyond gunfire.

A letter from the North Carolina Sheriff's Association warns deputies about the deadly toxin Ricin. The letter says that the word on the street is that drug traffickers might lace their drug with the killer powder and use it as bait. Their intent is to hurt or kill police.

"It's something that you keep in the back of your mind," Wrenn said. "This is a job that requires that sort of exposure, and we get exposed to a lot of different types of things. Hopefully, we will never be exposed to this."

There have not been any reported cases of any officers in the nation coming in contact with Ricin.

Ricin is derived from castor bean plants. Less than one milligram of the substance could kill an adult in two to three days.

The drug became famous in 1978 when a small amount of the powder was placed in a hollow ball and delivered by the tip of an umbrella to assassinate a Bulgarian defector at a London bus stop. Reporter: Todd HauerPhotographer: Chad Flowers

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