Cesar Sayoc has been taken into custody as a suspect in connection with the mail-bomb scare that has widened to include at least a dozen suspicious packages, law enforcement sources told ABC News. Sayoc, of Aventura, Florida, was arrested at an auto parts store in the nearby city of Plantation.
Court records show 56-year-old Sayoc has a history of arrests. He has been convicted of theft, stolen property and traffic charges and in 2002 on a threat to “throw, place, project or discharge any destructive device.” Sayoc was sentenced in August 2002 for threatening to throw a bomb in a conversation with a Florida utility representative, according to Ronald Lowy, a Miami attorney who represented him.
Dade County court records showed Sayoc served a year’s probation after a judge signed a discharge certificate in November 2002. Lowy told The Associated Press that Sayoc “made a verbal threat when he was frustrated at a lack of service.” Lowy said Sayoc showed no ability at the time to back up his threat with bomb-making expertise.
Law enforcement officers were seen on television Friday examining a white van, its windows covered with an assortment of stickers, in the city of Plantation in the Miami area. Authorities covered the vehicle with a blue tarp and took it away on the back of a flatbed truck.
The stickers included images of American flags and what appeared to be logos of the Republican National Committee and CNN, though the writing surrounding those images was unclear. The case against Sayoc will be handled by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, ABC News reported. Sayoc is required to appear first in the jurisdiction in which he was arrested, the Southern District of Florida.
The development came amid a coast-to-coast manhunt for the person responsible for a series of explosive devices addressed to Democrats including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton. Law enforcement officials said they had intercepted a dozen packages in states across the country.
None had exploded, and it wasn’t immediately clear if they were intended to cause physical harm or simply sow fear and anxiety. Investigators believe the mailings were staggered. The U.S. Postal Service searched their facilities 48 hours ago and the most recent packages didn’t turn up. Officials don’t think they were sitting in the system without being spotted. They were working to determine for sure. The officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.