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Letters to Bloomberg had ricin traces

NEW YORK — Two threatening letters sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg in New York and his gun-control group in Washington contained traces of the deadly poison ricin, police said Wednesday.

The anonymous letters were opened in New York on Friday at the city’s mail facility in Manhattan and in Washington on Sunday at an office used by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the nonprofit started by Bloomberg. Chief New York police spokesman Paul Browne said preliminary testing indicted the presence of ricin in both letters but that more testing would be done.

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The people who initially came into contact with the letters showed no symptoms of exposure to the poison, but three officers who later examined the New York letter experienced some minor symptoms that have abated, police said.

Both the letters contained threats to Bloomberg and an oily pinkish-orange substance, Browne said. He would not comment on what specific threats were made or where the letters were postmarked.

Word of the letters comes as a 37-year-old man is charged in Washington state with sending the toxin in letters to a US judge, and about a month after letters containing the substance were addressed to President Obama, a US senator, and a Mississippi judge.

Ricin is a poison found naturally in castor beans. Exposure symptons can include difficulty breathing, vomiting, and a redness on the skin.

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