Since April 26, there have been several “white powder scares” in Portland as well as in other cities around the country.
The Portland case appears to have been cracked. The letters containing the white powder were sent from the Multnomah County Jail. This seems to explain the statement earlier from police, “the letters have been stopped”.
At least two of the envelopes containing white powder also had the word “anthrax” written on them. Understandably, one might wonder how such letters could be sent out of a jail. However, while mail going into the jail is checked, mail going out is not unless investigators are specifically keeping an eye on someone’s actions.
Federal investigators are reportedly looking at a federal inmate who was being held at the jail. That inmate has now been transferred to a federal facility in Sheridan, Oregon.
The letters had been sent to the federal courthouse, the Lloyd Center mall, a business office at the airport, a business office at the downtown Hilton, the Marquam Building that houses OHSU offices and the Market Center Building that houses some offices for Portland State University.
There was no anthrax in any of the letters and no one was physically hurt in any of the incidents. Grant Coffey, Portland Fire & Rescue’s HAZMAT coordinator estimates however that the costs in resonse so far may reach as much as $14,000. Several buildings were required to be evacuated, hazmat teams scrambled people quarantined briefly in response.
In other “white powder scares” elsewhere, the FBI has linked the mailings of hundreds of envelopes containing white powder over the last four years to the work of someone in Texas.
The FBI released a statement that several of these letters contained a Texas postmark and contained references to subjects such as Nazis and Al Qaida. A $150,000 reward is being offered in this case.
The letters sent last week in Connecticut that Citizen Journalist reported on previously allegedly had an Al Qaida reference.