Man Arrested for Possession of Pufferfish Toxin

By Margaret Lyons in News on Jul 1, 2008 4:25PM

2008_7_1.thatfishispooooisooooon.jpgA Lake in the Hills man was arrested yesterday for possessing enough pufferfish toxin to kill about 100 people, according to the FBI. Tetrodotoxin possession without federal approval is a felony.

Edward F. Bachner IV allegedly posed as a doctor ("Dr. Edmund Backer," real creative) and tried to buy 98 milligrams of tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin that causes paralysis, from a New Jersey chemical company. But 98 milligrams is a lot of—researchers who legally use tetrodotoxin have about 1 milligram in their labs. The company contacted the FBI, and the feds arrested Bacher yesterday in Algonquin. A FBI haz-mat team was on hand while the FBI searched Bacher's house.

Authorities haven't announced what Bachner's motive or plans were, but they say the public is safe.

Tetrodotoxin is the danger juice in fugu. If ingested, it can kill a person in 20 minutes, but typically it's more like 4-6 hours. First, the person experiences numbness in their lips and face, and then a tingling or floating feeling through their extremities. Then more serious paralysis sets in, which causes breathing problems and can also cause cardiac arrhythmia, and then they die. [FDA, Trib, S-T, photo of a pufferfish by notsogoodphotography]