Real-life Breaking Bad as scientist arrested for ‘trying to make deadly ricin’

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A top scientist has been accused of trying to create the deadly poison ricin in the US.

Dr Isthtiqa Ali Saaem, 37, allegedly bought 100 packets of castor beans to produce the toxin.

As Breaking Bad buffs will know, this is used by Walter White in the hit crime drama.

The biomedical engineer is charged with obstruction of justice in a case but reportedly claimed he only meant to order one packet to decorate his home, New York Post reports.

Officials on Tuesday said Saaem, from Pennsylvania, was arrested by federal authorities on suspicion for trying to acquire the poison.

The US Attorney's Office for Massachusetts said he has a doctorate in biomedical engineering and worked as the director of advanced research at a biotechnology firm based in Massachusetts at the time.

He was accused of wanting to extract the toxin from 100 packets of castor beans that he ordered, according to the US Attorney’s Office for Massachusetts.

Each packet contained eight beans.

Ricin is a deadly poison that can be extracted from the seeds, or beans, of a castor oil plant.

Purchasing the seeds to grow a castor oil plant is not illegal but extracting ricin from the beans is.

When agents questioned Saaem over his purchase, he allegedly told them he only intended to plant the beans as a decorative plant for his apartment.

He said he accidentally purchased 100 packets instead of one.

After speaking to the agents, Saaem allegedly researched tasteless poisons that could be made at home.

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When he was questioned again, Saaem repeated his claim that he only intended to purchase castor beans to plant for decoration.

Authorities, however, accuse him of specifically trying to extract ricin.

Saaem has also been accused of lying to investigators who questioned his purchase, telling them that he only meant to buy one packet of castor beans to plant and decorate his home with, prosecutors said.

After the first inquiry, prosecutors said Saaem researched homemade tasteless poisons.

In a second meeting with authorities, he again claimed the castor beans were simply meant for planting at home.

Saaem is charged with one count of obstruction of justice which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Breaking Bad was a hit American TV series between 2008 and 2010.

  • Furious Patsy Palmer breaks silence with defiant post after Good Morning Britain exit

It was set in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and followed meek secondary chemistry teacher Walter White's transformation into a ruthless meth dealer after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

  • Crime
  • Science

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