Texas man accused of sending white powder hoax letters

MGN
Monday, July 28, 2014 - 3:46pm

A Rowlett, Texas, man was arrested this morning by special agents with the FBI and inspectors with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service on a criminal complaint charging an offense stemming from hundreds of white powder hoax letters he allegedly mailed from North Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.

Hong Minh Truong, 66, is charged in the complaint with false information and hoaxes. Truong made his initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Irma C. Ramirez, who ordered that he remain in federal custody.

“For almost six years, letters containing white powder - and believed to have been mailed by the same individual - have elicited law enforcement and public safety responses from numerous local, state and federal agencies. While it was determined that the mailings did not contain toxins or poisons, each incident required a field screening of the letter’s contents, which cost taxpayer dollars and diverted first responder resources,” explained Special Agent in Charge Diego Rodriguez of FBI Dallas. “We believe Hong Minh Truong is responsible for the hundreds of letters sent to locations worldwide, including U.S. government offices, aerospace companies, schools, daycares, and recently, hotels in the vicinity of Super Bowl XLVIII. The ongoing investigative work of the FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service is to be commended.”

According to the complaint, since December 2008, more than 500 hoax letters were mailed from the North Texas area to cities across the U.S. and to U.S. Embassies abroad. The initial letters, sent out on December 4, 2008, had a “Dallas, Texas” postmark and contained a white-powder substance. Law enforcement has identified more than 15 batches of similar letters sent from the Dallas area from December 2008 to the present. The language used in the letters as well as the method of sending the letters, indicate that one person, Truong, is responsible for sending all of the hoax letters. In all but two of the batches of letters, a white-powder substance was included in the envelope.

On May 7, 2012, the hoax letters mailed from the Dallas area contained a white-powder substance and the following statement:

Al Qaeda back! Special thing for you

What the hell where are you Scooby Doo, Counter Intelligence, CIA, you do not know how to catch the triple dealer spy in your law enforcement. What the hell where are you Scooby Doo, Internal Affairs, FBI, you don't know how to arrest the bad cop in your law enforcement.

You all flaming idiot, ignorant and arrogant, know nothing! How to protect this country! U.S.A

We are Al Qaeda, U.B.L FBI, Al Qaeda, SS Nazi FBI, working in your agency. We claim everything.

These letters were sent to pre-schools and elementary schools across the country as well as to Lockheed Martin in Grand Prairie, Texas. HAZMAT responded to the location of many hoax letter recipients, including Mi Escuelita Preschool Crossover in Dallas.

In June 2013, 28 public schools in Boston received letters that resulted in HAZMAT responses. That investigation resulted in the identification of an IP address in Rowlett associated with Truong.

“Today's joint operation should send a warning to those who seek to terrorize the American public through powder letters, real or hoax,” said Fort Worth Division Inspector in Charge R.L. Faulkerson. “Postal Inspectors and FBI agents have worked tirelessly during this six-year investigation to locate the person responsible for sending hundreds of letters containing hoax white powders. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service remains committed to our mission of protecting the nation’s postal system and ensuring our customers’ trust that mail they receive will be free from threats or dangerous substances.”

“Mr. Truong’s alleged criminal actions caused emergency responders and hazardous response teams immense unnecessary labor and expense, diverted personnel from actual emergencies and caused untold emotional distress to those who received the letters,” said U.S. Attorney Saldaña. “I commend the excellent investigative work of the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service that led to today’s arrest.”

A federal complaint is a written statement of the essential facts of the offenses charged and must be made under oath before a magistrate judge. A defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The government has 30 days to present the matter to a federal grand jury for indictment. The maximum statutory penalty for the offense as charged is five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Errin Martin is in charge of the prosecution. 

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