Ricin Krispies

Friday, February 29th, 2008, 3:44 pm

Admit it–when you heard that the incredibly dangerous poison ricin was found in a Las Vegas hotel you thought, "Bet it’s the Imperial Palace". That’s actually being very uncharitable to the venerable IP, which has provided shelter and a convienient location every time I’ve visited Vegas. But I think my line of thinking is somewhat understandable. A man exposed in the hotel is in a coma, and as of yet the police have no idea who put the poison there, or why.

Ricin is a jolly little substance–a thimblefull would be enough to liquidate the population of Spokane, Washington*. It was used by the Bulgarian secret police to assassinate dissident Georgi Markov in the 1950s–the killer injected a ricin-coated pellet into Markov’s leg using an umbrella that was turned into a weapon. Looking over it’s entry in Wikipedia I learned that back in 2003 ricin was discovered in a G-Vegas postal center. I remember a few years back the authorities raided some nut’s fortified compound and found ricin. He said it was to kill the coyotes on his property. A police spokesperson said that made about as much sense as someone using a hydrogen bomb to deal with groundhogs.

Ricin is relatively easy to make, but fortunately it’s not easy to weaponize. It degrades quickly, so if you plan on taking someone out with ricin you can’t dawdle. The deed must be done in relative haste, and as all would-be murderers know it doesn’t do to be harried when you’re about to shuffle some adversary off this mortal coil. The Wikipedia article quotes an expert on biological weapons that it was "somewhat reassuring" that al Qaeda was experimenting with ricin, as that made it likely that they couldn’t figure out how to weaponize botulin or anthrax. I don’t know if "reassuring" is the right word to describe a gang of mass murderers fiddling around with a highly-lethal substance, but I get his point.

I see now that the man in the coma was a previous guest at the hotel and has been in the hospital since February 14th. A potentially ominous development, I think. So much for degrading "quickly".  Strange days in Vegas the last month or so. Stranger than usual.

* "fact" fabricated from whole cloth

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One Response to “Ricin Krispies”

  1. Darcy Says:

    help some adversary shuffle off his mortal coil? rid some adversary of his mortal coil? There’s just no good way to word that sentence. How do you find out about these things? Oh, I guess you, uh, watch the news? Nevermind.

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