(Courthouse News) A Florida man with a history of arrests, including making bomb-related threats, was arrested on Friday for allegedly mailing several suspicious packages containing rudimentary pipe bombs to prominent critics of President Donald Trump. FBI agents removed the man from his van, which is covered in pro-Trump bumper stickers.
Cesar Sayoc, Jr., 56, of Aventura, Fla., was arrested Friday morning at a business in Plantation, Florida.
According to criminal court records in Miami-Dade County, Sayoc was arrested in 2002 on bomb-threat-related charges and ultimately served probation.
He has also faced charges of grand theft (in 1991) and criminal use of personal ID info (in 2004) in Broward County.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a press conference at the Justice Department Friday afternoon that Sayoc would be charged with the illegal mailing of explosives, threats against former U.S. presidents, threatening interstate communication, assaulting former and current federal officers.
He faces up to 58 years in prison if convicted on all charges.
“Let this be a lesson to anyone regardless of their political beliefs, we will bring the full force of law to anyone who uses violence to further an agenda. We’ll find you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law,” Sessions said.
When reporters asked Sessions why he believed Sayoc targeted Democrats and those on the left, the attorney general said “I don’t know.”
FBI director Chris Wray also said Friday that while the organization could not answer questions in-depth due to the pending nature of the investigation, Sayoc’s arrest was the culmination of work by investigators in Maryland, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Florida and New York.
Thirteen explosive devices – which Wray emphasized were “not hoax devices” – were found.
Wray also warned Friday that “we’re not out of the woods” and it was still possible explosive devices could be in transit.
Authorities will continue to remain vigilant, he said.
Sayoc will be charged in the Southern District of New York according to the State’s Attorney General Geoffrey Bateman.
Though Wray did not discuss details of the investigation in depth, he did confirm that latent fingerprints were lifted from devices that were mailed to former president Barack Obama and Rep. Maxine Waters.
The announcement of the arrest by Sarah Isgur Flore, director of public affairs at the Justice Department, came hours after law enforcement officials revealed two more of the packages containing what are believed to be explosives, were found overnight.
President Donald Trump, whose fiery rhetoric — including his recently praising a Congressman who struck a reporter while campaigning — is seen ushering in and foster the current era of rancor and widespread anger, praised law enforcement for the swift arrest in the case.
“These terrorizing acts are despicable and have no place in our country,” the president said.
He went on to vow the suspect will be prosecuted “to the fullest extent of the law.”
Early Friday morning officials said they had found one package, addressed to New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, during an overnight search of an Opa-locka, Florida mail facility.
A second package, addressed to dormer Director of National Intelligence James Clapper care of CNN, was discovered at a mail facility in Manhattan.
The latest discoveries bring to 14 the number of similar packages found to contain suspected explosive devices. The FBI is examining the devices at its crime lab in Quantico, Va.
Law enforcement were also investigating suspicious packages sent to the Sacramento office of Sen. Kamala Harris, and to Tom Steyer, founder of @NextGenAmerica & @Need2Impeach. The Steyer package was intercepted at the Burlingame mail facility in California.
As with other packages sent to prominent Democrats and liberals and CNN, and later found to contain what appeared to be rudimentary explosive devices, the return address listed on the pacakges was the Sunrise, Fla., office of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Meanwhile, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told CNN Friday morning that he is not surprised he has been targeted with a suspicious package.
Clapper described the mailings to Trump critics as ” domestic terrorism,” but added that they are “not going to silence the administration’s critics.”
Izzy Kapnick contributed to this report.