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BioterrorismFlorida teenager faces bioterrorism charges

Published 24 January 2014

Jesse Korff, 19, of Labelle, Florida is facing federal charges in New Jersey for selling poison through a black marketplace on the underground Internet. Law enforcement says from November 2013 through 15 January this year, Korff produced, stockpiled, and sold abrin for use as a weapon. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers abrin, which is extracted from the seeds of the rosary pea plant, a subset of biological agents and toxins posing a threat to public health and safety. Small doses of abrin are potentially lethal to humans if ingested, inhaled, or injected.

Jesse Korff, 19, of Labelle, Florida is facing federal charges in New Jersey for selling poison through a black marketplace on the underground Internet.

Law enforcement says from November 2013 through 15 January this year, Korff produced, stockpiled, and sold abrin for use as a weapon.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers abrin, which is extracted from the seeds of the rosary pea plant, a subset of biological agents and toxins posing a threat to public health and safety. Small doses of abrin are potentially lethal to humans if ingested, inhaled, or injected.

“The criminal complaint alleges Jesse Korff was willing to sell a potentially deadly toxin to a stranger over the Internet,” U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said in a statement. “He allegedly peddled the poison on a virtual black market of illegal and dangerous goods, hidden in the shadow of a secretive computer network favored by cybercriminals.”

“We’re talking basically a biohazard type situation,” Special Agent Dave Couvertier, with the FBI’s Tampa office, said. “Potentially a weapon of mass destruction, depending on how you utilize it.”

News-Press reports that Korff allegedly sold abrin through anonymous marketplace Black Market Reloaded, a site only accessible on the Tor network, and where purchases can be made using decentralized electronic currency Bitcoin. A DHS undercover agent in Newark created a BMR user account and reached out to Korff with questions about the toxin.

On 23 December Korff allegedly wrote the agent back, saying that abrin was “not a pill” but “comes in a liquid to put in a drink or in food like the bun of a cheeseburger.” The complaint says that four days later Korff told the undercover agent he would conceal the toxin in a hollowed-out candle with wax poured on top. The complaint says that Korff cautioned the agent that the drink designated to be poisoned “should be somewhat dark,” suggesting either coke or a shot of brown liquor. “Actually alcohol would probably be the best because you know they will drink all of it,” Korff allegedly wrote. “And they will start to feel flu like symptoms in 48 hours, then it will progressively get worse until they die by the forth [sic] day.”