A deadly, but legal, chemical was being sent by ordinary mail to over 40 countries. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of recipients around the world have used this poison to take their own lives. On the back of these parcels was no name, but the same shipping address: a P.O. Box in Mississauga, a Canadian city of almost 900,000 residents, next to Toronto, Ontario. For the past five months, Canada has been gripped by a sprawling, investigation into the exact number of victims across several continents of its alleged postal serial killer.
57-year-old Kenneth Law was arrested by Mississauga Regional Police on May 2, 2023. He was charged with “counselling or aiding suicide” in relation to two people in Ontario, a crime punishable under Canadian law by 14 years of imprisonment. Since the summer, 12 other alleged victims, aged between 16 and 36, have been added to his charge sheet in Canada.
Police in the US, Italy, New Zealand, Australia and Ireland have also been looking into all suicides that might be linked to Law. In the UK, the National Crime Agency reported in August that it had identified 230 people who had received products sold by Law over the past two years. 88 have died.
Additive in meat preservation
Ontario investigators suspect this Canadian of having mailed over 1,200 packages of sodium nitrite sachets around the world. This white crystalline powder – used as an additive in the preservation of meats and cured meats, under the code E250 – has turned out to be a frighteningly effective poison if ingested in high doses.
By reducing oxygen levels and impairing breathing, it can lead rapidly to death. Since 2021, several teams of American, British and Italian toxicologists have published studies showing that ingesting sodium nitrite is becoming an increasingly widespread suicide method, particularly among 15-39 year-olds who use the internet as their main source of information.
On his still-active LinkedIn profile, Law, wearing small round glasses, describes himself as an “executive” with an engineering degree and an MBA in marketing and international business. He makes no mention of his most recent professional experience: a brief stint as a cook in a luxury hotel in Toronto, where, according to the police, he discovered this “food salt,” and where to buy it.
Since the end of 2020, on several websites registered in his name, he allegedly offered for sale 50-gram packs of sodium nitrite, with an advertised purity of “99.999%,” for 59 Canadian dollars (€40). Customers could also order masks and gas inhalers, perfect “suicide kits,” according to the police.
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