May 29, 2014 / 11:00 PM / 4 years ago

Former New Jersey pharmacist admits to trying to make ricin

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former New Jersey pharmacist pleaded guilty on Thursday to manufacturing the deadly toxins ricin and abrin, federal authorities said.

Jordan Gonzalez, 34, appeared in federal court to face charges of attempting to develop deadly toxins and to possessing equipment for producing illegal narcotics.

Even tiny doses of ricin and abrin, toxins extracted from plant seeds, are potentially lethal to humans if ingested, inhaled, or injected.

“Jordan Gonzalez admitted today that he worked to manufacture and deploy deadly toxins, stockpiled weapons and body armor, and acquired manuals training him for violent confrontation,” said U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul Fishman.

An attorney for Gonzalez could not immediately be reached for comment.

Gonzalez was arrested in November after law enforcement tracked several suspicious deliveries to his New York City apartment, including a kilogram of a toxic and explosive compound, the FBI said.

Searches of his homes in Jersey City and Manhattan as well as a New Jersey storage unit turned up thousands of seeds containing ricin and abrin, explosive precursor chemicals and manuals on how to produce toxins, the FBI said in a statement.

Investigators also seized explosives, 1,000 rounds of ammunition, handguns, components for an assault rifle and “books and documents related to the collapse of social order and techniques for surviving in a lawless environment,” the statement said.

Gonzalez admitted to investigators he was preparing the toxins and stockpiling the weapons for confrontations with other people, the FBI said.

Gonzalez could face an unlimited prison term for the charges of developing the deadly toxins, the FBI said.

Sentencing is set for Sept. 17.

Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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