Canadian woman accused of mailing poison to President Trump, local law enforcement agencies

The Canadian woman accused of mailing envelopes containing the poison ricin to President Donald J. Trump and local law enforcement agencies appeared in federal court on Tuesday in Buffalo, New York and faces another court appearance later this month.

Pascale Cecile Veronique Ferrier, 53, is the woman the FBI believes mailed the highly toxic poison that can cause organ failure and death to President Trump last week.

Pascale Ferrier. Courtesy of Hidalgo County

Six similar letters were sent to law enforcement agencies in Hidalgo County at around the same time. The letters, the FBI alleges in the criminal complaint against Ferrier, were also sent by her after she spent some time in the Hidalgo County jail last year.

“There is probable cause to believe that the defendant knowingly and willfully threatened to take the life of, and to inflict bodily harm upon, the President of the United States,” the affidavit charging Ferrier with the federal felony charge of Threatening the President of the United States said.

In the affidavit, provided by FBI Special Agent Bomb Technician Jonathan Preston, the U.S, Secret Service notified the FBI Washington Field Office Friday, Sept. 18, of a letter addressed to the President that was post-marked from Canada with a white powdery material that would later test positive for ricin.

“I found a new name for you: ‘The Ugly Tyrant Clown’ I hope you like it,” the letter stated. “You ruin USA and lead them to disaster. I have US cousins, then (sic) I don’t want the next 4 years with you as president. Give up and remove your applications for this election. So I made a ‘Special Gift’ for you to make a decision. This gift is in this letter. If it doesn’t work, I’ll find better recipe for another poison, or I might use my gun when I’m able to come. Enjoy! FREE REBEL SPIRIT”

While examining the letter, the Washington Field Office was informed of the existence of six additional letters from the FBI Field Office in Texas. 

In a Tuesday news release, the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Sheriff J.E. “Eddie” Guerra received a similar letter on Monday, Sept. 14. 

Like the letter sent to President Trump, ricin was found in the envelope.

“In the letter, the author clearly stated a desire to harm Sheriff Guerra and three female detention officers as they too were sent letters,” the sheriff’s office said in the news release. “The letters were intercepted at the Hidalgo County Detention Center, without incident.”

Through a collaboration between the sheriff’s office, the Texas Transnational Intelligence Center, Ferrier was identified as the suspect through details she provided in the letter such as the letter being sent from Canada and being jailed in the county’s women’s detention facility and fingerprints that matched hers.

Ferrier was previously arrested last year on misdemeanor charges in Mission.

Hidalgo County jail records for Ferrier show she was arrested by Mission police on March 13, 2019 on two charges of unlawfully carrying a weapon and one charge of tampering with a governmental record. The Mission Municipal Court arraigned her on these charges and placed her on a $15,000 cash surety bond before the charges were dismissed.

While in the Hidalgo County Jail, authorities discovered that she had overstayed her six-month visa and had violated the terms of her passport by committing a crime while in the United States, and she was deported back to Canada, according to the news report.

Mission police spokesman Inv. Art Flores confirmed on Tuesday the Mission Police Department received a letter from Ferrier late last week. The FBI, which is handling the investigation, did not identify who received the sixth letter but a Wednesday a social media post from the Brooks County Sherriff’s Office announced an ricin envelope from Ferrier was received by them last week that was addressed to Sheriff Urbino “Benny” Martinez  

In a news release sent after this story was sent to printers, Mission police Chief Robert Dominguez said Ferrier was arrested after refusing to leave the parking lot at the Mission Hike and Bike Trails on two occasions in the same night despite a local ordinance that closes the park at 10 p.m.

She was arrested and officers found a fake driver’s license that hindered the police from properly identifying her and a loaded handgun and a club, Dominguez stated.

The affidavit said that the letters mailed to Mission PD and to Guerra and the detention officers contained similar language used in the letter mailed to Trump such as the “Free Rebel Spirit” signature. 

Pascale was arrested on Sunday after attempting to enter the United States from Canada at the Peace Bridge border crossing in Buffalo, New York where she was found to be in possession of a loaded firearm in her waistband and a knife, the affidavit stated.

“The defendant made statements to CBP Officers referencing ‘being wanted by the FBI for the ricin letter,’” the affidavit said of Ferrier’s detainment.

If convicted of the federal felony charge, Ferrier faces up to five years in prison, a $250,000 maximum fine, a $100 special assessment, and three years of supervised release.

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