Florida teenager faces bioterrorism charges

Court documents show that on 31 December the agent sent Korff a message agreeing to send $1,500 in Bitcoin in exchange for one dose of abrin. He asked Korff what the death of his intended victim would look like to a doctor, to which Korff, on 1 January, replied, “a really bad case of the flu” and that “no doctor will suspect foul play so there will most likely be no autopsy.”

On 5 January Korff messaged the gent with a Bitcoin address for the payment and with the location of a Florida rest stop where Korff would leave the abrin for the agent to pick up. The complaint says that agent in several messages indicated to Korff he would be driving down from Canada to pick up the toxin and take it back to his home country.

On 13 January Korff allegedly answered some of the undercover agent’s concerns by saying, “I guarantee it will work … if you drop the abrin in someone’s drink Wednesday he will be dead Friday and there is no way to trace it after 24 hours of ingestion.” Korff then offered to sell the undercover a second dose of abrin for a discounted price of $1,000, court documents show.

On 14 January officials set surveillance of the rest stop, and later that day saw the driver of a Buick inspecting areas of land near the road. Investigators were able to trace the Buick back to Korff and also began monitoring the man’s home.

The same day Korff allegedly sent the agent photographs of the proposed drop-off point and said he would put the abrin-containing candles in a McDonald’s bag behind a No Trespassing sign. Korff was arrested after agents saw him leave his home, go into a McDonald’s near the rest stop, and leave the food bag in the location shown in the photos.

News-Press notes that a lab test found the toxin to contain “a detectable amount of abrin.”

Korff was charged with one count each of possession and transfer of a toxin for use as a weapon and smuggling goods out of the United States. Korff will make a bail hearing before a federal court in Fort Myers, Florida, later today (Friday). He will then be taken to New Jersey to appear in Newark federal court.

“Had this been an actual sale to a real customer, the consequences could have been tragic,” Fishman said. “Fortunately, an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a buyer was able to get a dangerous chemical weapon and its alleged seller off our streets.”

Korff faces up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine for the charge of possession and transfer of a toxin for use as a weapon. He faces up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the charge of smuggling goods from the United States.