The man arrested in the United States in connection with a series of parcel bombs sent to high profile Democrats or critics of President Donald Trump, will face an initial five federal charges that could land him in jail for up to 58 years.
The 56-year old suspect – Cesar Sayoc – was arrested earlier in Plantation, Florida in a connection with mail bombs sent to several people, including former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton among 13 parcels to date that have been intercepted by law enforcement across the country.
The FBI also confirmed that these were not hoax devices.
Devices were intercepted across the country in five states – New York, Maryland, Florida, Delaware and California – and the District of Columbia where the nation’s capital is located.
Authorities are warning that further devices could still be discovered in this ongoing investigation.
Sayoc had a criminal history, having been convicted of theft and traffic charges, including a threat in 2002 to throw, place, project or discharge any destructive device.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions says, “A suspect is in the custody of the FBI, I want to remind everyone that the defendant in this case as in every case is innocent until proven guilty. He’s been charged today with five federal crimes including interstate transportation of an explosive, illegal mailing of explosives, threats against former presidents and certain other person, threatening interstate communications and assaulting current and former federal offices.”
“For these charges, the defendant faces up to 58 years in prison. These charges may change or expand as the investigation proceeds. This is a law and order investigation, we will not tolerate such lawlessness, especially not political violence.”
The suspect’s van, impounded by the FBI, was emblazoned with symbols in support of President Trump and against his political opponents.
Christopher Wray is the FBI Director says, “We have arrested Cesar Sayoc in connection with this investigation, as our investigation is still ongoing I may not be able to answer questions about his background or about his motive. What I can say is that this was a nationwide investigation of enormous scope and of the greatest importance.”
Wray also debunked commentary that suggested the improvised explosive devices sent in the mail were fake.
“We’re still analyzing the devices, in our laboratory, these are not hoax devices. I want to focus for a moment on the amazing work of our folks at the FBI lab. Based on their initial analyses, they uncovered a latent fingerprint from one of the envelopes containing an IED that had been sent to Congresswoman Maxine Waters. We have confirmed this fingerprint is that of Cesar Sayoc. There is also a possible DNA connection between samples collected from pieces from two different IED, mailed in separate envelopes and a sample previously collected from Sayoc from an earlier arrest down in Florida,” explains Wray.
Social media accounts, appearing to belong to the suspect, included attacks on Democrat supporter George Soros who was also sent a device and praise for President Trump – who also reacted to the arrest.
“These terrorizing acts are despicable and have no place in our country. I’ve instructed authorities to spare no resource or expense in finding those responsible and bringing them to swift and certain justice. We will prosecute them, him, her whoever it may be to the fullest extent of the law. We must never allow political violence to take root and America cannot let that happen. And I’m committed to doing everything in my power as president to stop it.”
Attorney General Sessions was asked if he knew why the suspect targeted only Democrats.
He said he didn’t know, adding that he appeared to be a partisan but that it would be determined by the facts as the case went forward.
Sayoc has retained a lawyer while federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York will handle his case.