Everett man accused of sending ‘explosive materials’ to White House, FBI, military sites

WASHINGTON  — A 43-year-old Everett man was charged by a criminal complaint in federal court Tuesday with shipping of explosive materials, U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes announced.

The defendant, Thanh Cong Phan, was arrested Monday "after a number of packages containing small amounts of black explosive powder were received at various mail-screening locations in the Washington DC area," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a news release. " The mailings were addressed to the White House, the FBI, and various government and military installations.

"The investigation to locate and isolate all of the packages is ongoing.  No packages have exploded or caused any injuries."

Federal authorities said Phan became a suspect in the case when a U.S. Postal Service inspector traced the tracking information on one of the packages to the Mill Creek, Wash., post office self-service kiosk.

"Surveillance photos from the time of the mailing appeared to show Phan," the news release said. "Writings contained in the package were also similar to previous correspondence from Phan to various government agencies.  Phan had been known to police previously because of the writings, and due to frequent contact with the 911 emergency dispatch system.  Phan was taken into custody without incident."

Shipping of explosive materials is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The packages were similarly designed and contained black powder along with rambling, nonsensical notes similar to those Phan has been known to send in the past, the complaint said.

The federal criminal complaint said 11 suspicious packages were received via the U.S. Postal Service at various government agencies in the D.C. area, including the U.S. Secret Service, White House Mail Screening Facility, National Geospatial Agency, Fort Belvoir, Dahlgreen Naval Base and FBI Headquarters.

Phan's motive was not immediately clear, but the official said there was no immediate connection to terrorism.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters on Tuesday that all of the packages sent to Defense Department facilities are under the control of the federal authorities.

"Basically there's a set procedure, they went through the procedure," said Mattis. "We've had nobody injured and all those packages and all the evidence is accessible and is the hands of the FBI right now."