A man from LA Crescenta has been sentenced to 3½ years in the prison owing to an attempt for obtaining a hazardous biological toxin named Ricin from the dark web and then ship the deadly poison via the mail to a commercial building located in downtown, Los Angeles.
The defendant has been identified as Steve S. Kim of age 42 years, who now claims that he had intended to use the poison ricin for committing suicide. But there are several indications that state the main intentions were not what he has claimed but to murder his wife or another person with the help of undetectable toxin, as stated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Before Kim was aware of the FBI’s investigation, “he told an online associate that he intended to use the ricin to kill another person, whom he described as a 110-pound person,” prosecutors wrote in a memorandum filed with the court.
“The evidence uncovered showed that defendant’s wife weighed approximately 110 pounds and had severe underlying health issues and that defendant and his wife were going through a difficult period in their relationship,” according to the document.
The federal public defence attorney has declined the comment. The prosecutors have recommended the defendant to go for a federal prison sentence of over seven years. The defendant’s sentencing position has been filed under seal.
“There is no evidence other than his own self-serving statements post-arrest that he intended to kill himself,” federal prosecutors wrote. “Moreover, the defendant was lucid, logical, and knew what he was doing when he accessed the dark web multiple times to attempt to purchase dangerous toxins. Two psychological reports have been prepared in this matter and both conclude that defendant was well aware that he was engaging in very dangerous and illegal crimes, and did so without regard to the safety of the community.”
The defendant, Kim, had pleaded guilty the previous year before the U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter to a single count of violating the federal criminal salute called the prohibition concerning the biological weapons.
In late 2018, over a period of two months, the defendant had attempted to obtain the poison ricin along with another toxin named cyanide from an online seller on dark web. In reality, the person from whom Kim had ordered the toxins was an undercover FBI agent who posed as a seller.
A sting operation was carried out where the FBI had concealed a different substance that professed to be ricin inside another product. The package was delivered to the defendant’s work address in Los Angeles. The same evening, the defendant had taken the parcel to his residence and had accessed the fake ricin. He was arrested immediately.
“Putting aside for the moment defendant’s intended use of the toxins once he received them, his attempts to procure deadly biological toxins put many at risk,” according to prosecutors. “One of the toxins that the defendant attempted to obtain and send through the mail was cyanide, a substance which, if inhaled, can cause seizures, apnea, and cardiac arrest, with death following in a matter of seconds. Much more dangerously, however, the defendant intended to send ricin through the mail.”
The biological toxin, ricin, if inhaled causes chest tightness, fever, severe respiratory problems, cough and even aids in fluid buildup in the lungs. On the contrary, if the toxin is ingested, it causes organ damage and intestinal bleeding. Ricin is found naturally in the castor bean shrub that is potential enough to kill within just three days of exposure, while even a few grains of it is fatal. As of now, there is no antidote for the toxin.
The defendant had agreed upon to pay an amount of 320 Euros (around $350) in Bitcoin for the biological toxin purchase. The defendant had admitted that he had no intentions to use the poison for any lawful purpose, as stated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The confession has been recorded in his plea agreement.
“The idea of intentionally using a biological agent to do harm shocks the conscience,” said Paul Delacourt, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office. “This case demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to holding accountable actors who use or attempt to use weapons of mass destruction to carry out acts of terrorism or violence.”
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