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IMMINENT WARNING: FENTANYL ENVELOPES IN ELECTION OFFICES IN GEORGIA, WASHINGTON, THREAT TO WORKERS

November 9, 2023

Pike Wipperfurth, Nicholas Novak, Extremism Team

Elena Alice Rossetti, Mia Sadler, Editor; Jennifer Loy, Chief Editor



Washington and Georgia Map[1]


Event: On November 8, 2023, multiple election office locations across Washington and Georgia received envelopes laced with a white powdery substance, later identified as fentanyl. At 1000 local time, Spokane Police Department (SPD) officers, their embedded Explosives Disposal Unit, and Spokane Fire Department members arrived at the Spokane County Elections Office to investigate an envelope containing a white powdery substance. After testing the substance for chemical/biological agents, explosive compounds, and controlled substances, authorities identified it as fentanyl.[2] Vote counters in King, Pierce, Skagit, and Spokane County election offices in Washington, and Fulton County election office in Georgia received similar envelopes.[3] Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, and Steve Hobbs, Washington’s secretary of state, call these events acts of domestic terrorism.[4] Both states are currently in the process of counting votes from elections that took place on November 7. Investigations into these incidents are ongoing.


Significance: Fentanyl, an extremely deadly synthetic opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, is used in the medical field to treat severe pain and advanced-stage cancer. Even in very small amounts, it can lead to an overdose.[5] Narco traffickers and drug dealers produce fentanyl illegally and sell it worldwide in illegal drug markets. Given the powdery form of the drug, it is very likely that the Fentanyl laced in the letters sent to election offices is illegally made fentanyl (IMF). Fentanyl is extremely deadly, scentless, tasteless, almost impossible to detect without a test strip, and comes in both liquid and powdered forms. Future attacks will likely use IMF in both powder and liquid forms, likely implementing other dissemination methods including contaminating water sources and foods or releasing it into the air via liquid spray (aerosol). It is almost certain that threat actors sent the letters to harm election workers processing ballots, likely attempting to halt elections. It is likely that additional election offices, election officials, and ballot stations will be the targets of future attacks, very likely during a state’s election seasons. Threat actors are likely using the general elections to test the security level in election offices, likely preparing to interfere with the 2024 federal election.


Recommendations

  • The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) recommends ballot envelopes should be inspected prior to being opened by election officials.

  • CTG recommends that election offices and ballot stations keep Naloxone kits, used to reverse the effects of an overdose, accessible and train their personnel on how to administer the medication.

  • CTG recommends that election office staff receive training on how to recognize the early signs of an opioid overdose. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), look for: Small, constricted “pinpoint pupils;” falling asleep or losing consciousness; slow, weak, or no breathing, choking or gurgling sounds; limp body; cold and/or clammy skin; and discolored skin (especially in lips and nails).

  • CTG recommends that emergency response personnel review their department and CDC Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for servicing a fentanyl-related emergency. This includes reviewing proper procedures for establishing scene safety, personal protective equipment for Level A-D exposure levels, and triage SOPs for potential mass casualty events.

  • If there is any additional and or critical information please contact us at The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) by Telephone 202-643-2848 or email info@counterterrorismgroup.com

 

[1]Blank US Map (states only), by Heitordp, states colored by writer, licensed under Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

[2] SPD Investigating Suspicious Substance, Spokane City Police Department, November 2023, https://my.spokanecity.org/police/news/2023/11/08/spd-investigating-suspicious-substance/

[3] Fentanyl-laced envelopes sent to US election officials, BBC, November 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-67374213

[4] @electhobbs, X (Twitter), November 8, 2023, https://twitter.com/electhobbs/status/1722404694201647316

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