Feds drop charges against man accused of mailing explosives

Thanh Cong Phan, of Everett, was deemed mentally incompetent. One package was tracked to Mill Creek.

Thanh Cong Phan

Thanh Cong Phan

EVERETT — An Everett man accused of mailing explosive devices to government agencies will not face trial.

A judge dismissed the charges against Thanh Cong Phan on Monday in U.S. District Court in Seattle, due to his mental condition, according to court papers. The charges were dismissed without prejudice, meaning the case could be revisited.

Phan, who lives with schizophrenia, was first declared mentally incompetent in July 2018. He underwent treatment to determine if he could eventually assist in his own defense and one day stand trial. Many of the documents regarding his competency evaluations have been sealed by court order and are unavailable to the public. That includes a risk assessment on whether Phan poses a danger to others. Court documents indicate he was being treated at a federal medical facility in North Carolina.

Phan was arrested in March 2018 and is believed to have sent at least 18 packages to government offices in and around the nation’s capital. Among other destinations, they were mailed to the White House, CIA, FBI headquarters and military installations. Each package contained what appeared to be a homemade explosive using a glass bottle filled with black powder, fixed with a fuse and a GPS device, court papers say. Included with each package was a typed letter, “with ramblings about neuropsychology, mind control, and other subjects, including terrorism,” U.S. attorneys wrote.

Bomb technicians were investigating the home of a south Everett man on March 27, 2018, after he allegedly mailed potential bombs to the White House, CIA, FBI headquarters and military installations in Virginia and Washington, D.C. (Caleb Hutton / Herald file)

Bomb technicians were investigating the home of a south Everett man on March 27, 2018, after he allegedly mailed potential bombs to the White House, CIA, FBI headquarters and military installations in Virginia and Washington, D.C. (Caleb Hutton / Herald file)

A U.S. postal inspector tracked one of the packages back to Mill Creek, where Phan reportedly was seen in surveillance footage paying for the package at a post office.

Phan also apparently called 911 from the post office at an earlier date, telling a dispatcher that “high-tech neuroscience terrorists” were controlling his body. It took the dispatcher three minutes to persuade Phan that wasn’t happening.

Phan sent hundreds of letters and emails to government agencies for three years before sending the suspicious packages, according to charging documents.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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