Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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April 18, 2013

Miss. man arrested for mailing suspected ricin

CORINTH, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi man accused of mailing letters with suspected ricin to national leaders believed he had uncovered a conspiracy to sell human body parts on the black market and claimed "various parties within the government" were trying to ruin his reputation.

Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, was arrested Wednesday at his home in Corinth, near the Tennessee state line. He was being held in the Lafayette County jail in Oxford, Miss., a booking officer, who declined to give his name, said Thursday. It was not immediately known what charges Curtis faced.

Curtis had been living in Corinth, a city of about 14,000 in extreme northeastern Mississippi, since December, but local police had not had any contact with him prior to his arrest, Corinth Police Dept. Captain Ralph Dance told The Associated Press on Thursday. Dance said the department aided the FBI during the arrest and that Curtis did not resist being taken into custody. Since Curtis arrived in the town, he had been living in "government housing," Dance said. He did not elaborate.

Police maintained a perimeter Thursday around Curtis' home, and federal investigators were expected to search the house later in the morning, said local officers on the scene who declined to be identified. At least five police cars were on the scene late Wednesday, but there didn't appear to be any hazardous-material crews and no neighbors were evacuated. The one-story, single-family home is similar to the others in the neighborhood — red brick with white trim.

Authorities were waiting for definitive tests on intercepted letters that were addressed to President Barack Obama and Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss. Preliminary field tests can often show false positives for ricin. Ricin is derived from the castor plant that makes castor oil. There is no antidote and it's deadliest when inhaled.

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