Powdery substance found in package in Calexico

October 17, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Fear of anthrax infection has continued in the Imperial Valley, with the latest report of a powdery substance in a package coming from the Coppel warehouse here.

Shortly before 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Calexico firefighters responded to Coppel at 503 Scaroni Road.

Workers had contacted the Fire Department, reporting a white powder had been found in a box sent to the business from overseas.

However, Calexico police Sgt. Jim Neujahr said, the package came from a source that regularly sends such packages to Coppel.

In addition, workers there told authorities it is not uncommon for such packages to be packed with talcum powder to keep products from rubbing against each other.

Still, Neujahr said because of the anthrax scare, employees decided to call authorities.

After firefighters arrived, the box was isolated so the powder could be sent for testing. Employees went through a precautionary decontamination process.


The business was allowed to reopen later in the day.

Tuesday's report came a day after another Calexico business, Pronto Market, reported a white powder had been inside a letter. The substance was found to be a food additive.

While the local FBI office cannot comment on any matters related to anthrax scares, FBI Special Agent Jan Caldwell of San Diego said in that area there have been 50 reports of anthrax scares. She did not have information on how many cases have been reported in the Imperial Valley.

Caldwell said in all 50 cases in San Diego, the substances found were determined not to be anthrax.

She said when people receive a package or letter they think is suspicious they should proceed with caution and contact authorities but should not panic.

She said such items should be placed down and the person who opens the package should wash his or her hands.

Caldwell added it is best to isolate the package and contact authorities.

FBI officials said if someone is found to send a package with a substance in it as a hoax, that person could be prosecuted.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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