Ex-New Jersey Pharmacist Sentenced For 'Attempting To Weaponize' Ricin

Jan 30 (Reuters) - A former New Jersey pharmacist has been sentenced to 6-1/2 years in prison for "attempting to weaponize" the deadly toxins ricin and abrin and for possessing equipment for making illegal narcotics, the U.S. Justice Department said on Friday.

Jordan Gonzalez, 34, pleaded guilty in May 2014 in federal court in New Jersey. The toxins, extracted from plant seeds, are potentially lethal to humans if ingested, inhaled or injected, even in tiny doses.

In addition to the prison term "for attempting to weaponize the lethal toxins" and possessing a prohibited flask with the intention of using it to produce illegal narcotics, U.S. District Judge Mary Cooper sentenced Gonzalez to five years of supervised release, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Gonzalez was arrested in November 2013 after law enforcement officials tracked several suspicious deliveries to his New York City apartment, including a kilogram of a toxic and explosive compound, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has 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, according to the FBI.

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 FBI said.

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

"He was preparing for a violent confrontation that fortunately never occurred," U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman for the District of New Jersey said in the statement.

An attorney for Gonzalez could not immediately be reached for comment. (Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Eric Beech)



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