A judge in California sentenced a man to forty two months in prison for attempting to buy the deadly poison ricin and cyanide on the darkweb.
According to the court records, Steve S. Kim, 41, of La Crescenta, California, attempted to buy ricin and cyanide from a vendor on the dark web in 2018. An undercover law enforcement officer working for the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) posed as a vendor and agreed to sell a lethal amount of ricin to Kim.
Ricin is a poison found naturally in castor beans. If castor beans are chewed and swallowed, the released ricin can cause injury. Ricin can be made from the waste material left over from processing castor beans.
It can be in the form of a powder, a mist, or a pellet, or it can be dissolved in water or weak acid.
It is a stable substance under normal conditions, but can be inactivated by heat above 80 degrees centigrade (176 degrees Fahrenheit).
Kim was planning to kill his wife, according to the investigators. “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. “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.”
Kim discussed the purchase with the undercover FBI agent on the dark web, Kim paid $350 in Bitcoin for the ricin. He gave the FBI agent his work address where he was planning to receive the deadly package. A package with a decoy was prepared by law enforcement agents and with an inert substance that resembled ricin. The USPS (United States Postal Service) delivered the package to Kim’s office.
Kim was arrested after he had returned home from his office. The package of fake ricin was in his possession when he was arrested.
Ricin and Kim’s Explanation
Kim told the investigators that he had planned to take his own life with the ricin. According to the Prosecutors, no evidence supported Kim’s explanation:
“There is no evidence other than his own self-serving statements post- arrest that he intended to kill himself. Moreover, 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.”
Finally, in September 2019, Kim admitted to investigators that he did not intend to use the ricin for “a prophylactic, protective, bona fide research, or other peaceful purpose as required by law,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Then in September 2020, United States District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. sentenced Kim to 42 months in prison for one count of violating the criminal statute called prohibition with respect to biological weapons.
According to Paul Delacourt, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, “The idea of intentionally using a biological agent to do harm shocks the conscience, 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.”