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Texas man arrested in mailings of white powder hoax letters

Northern Texas man arrested on suspicion of sending more than 500 hoax letters with white powder

A northern Texas man suspected of sending more than 500 letters containing white powder to U.S. government offices, aerospace companies, schools and even hotels near the Super Bowl XLVIII venue has been arrested.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Texas charged Hong Minh Truong, 66, of Rowlett, Texas, with false information and hoaxes.

"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," said Special Agent in Charge Diego Rodriguez of FBI Dallas in a statement.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Irma C. Ramirez late Monday ordered Truong to remain in federal custody.

Beginning in December 2008, an estimated 519 letters were mailed across the U.S. and overseas to U.S. embassies, according to the criminal complaint. These hoax letters were mailed in batches of 10 to 40 at a time, and all but two of the batches contained a white-powder substance that was later determined to not be toxic, according to agents cited in the complaint.

The initial letters, sent out Dec. 4, 2008, had a Dallas postmark, according to the complaint. The language used in the subsequent letters led authorities to suspect one person was responsible for sending all of the letters.

When investigators went through Truong’s trash last week, they found a torn letter and envelopes addressed to Boston public schools that contained language similar to that in the other hoax letters:

“We are terrorist victim from Al-Queada FBI (FBI working for International Al-Queada), Communist FBI and Nazi FBI in Texas.... They have been forcing and controlling us to do something,” the reconstructed letter said, according to the complaint. “The conspire against U.S.A. and attack anywhere to murder on many ways American people....”

The letter goes on to list 13 things that will be used "to kill people in America," including letters containing poison, and "chop, slice, dice and mash body of leeches" that will be put in food, plus acid bombs, hijacked airplanes and poison that would be sent to U.S. oil rigs.

If convicted, Truong faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

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Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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