Suspect Identified in Case of Mail-Bombs Sent to Politicians

The suspect arrested by federal authorities Friday in connection with the suspected explosive packages discovered this week was identified as Cesar Sayoc of Florida, law enforcement sources said.

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(Photo: Broward County)

The 56-year-old was arrested at an auto parts store in Plantation, Florida, a city about 30 miles north of Miami. Sayoc, from Aventura, Florida, reportedly has a long criminal history, including arrests for theft, illegal possession of steroids and a 2002 charge of making a bomb threat.

It was not immediately clear whether Sayoc had been formally charged in the current case.

Law enforcement officers were seen on television examining a white van, with some of its windows covered in an assortment of stickers, outside the auto parts store in Plantation. They then covered the vehicle with a blue tarp and took it away on the back of a flatbed truck.

The stickers reportedly included images of President Donald Trump and the American flag.

Sayoc was convicted in 2014 for grand theft and misdemeanor theft of less than $300, and in 2013 for battery. In 2004, he faced several felony charges for possession of a synthetic anabolic-androgenic steroid. He was also arrested several times for theft during the 1990s.

In 2002, Sayoc was arrested and served a year of probation for a felony charge of threatening to throw or place a bomb, according to online records.

The arrest came amid a nationwide manhunt for the person or persons responsible for the series of explosive devices addressed to prominent figures in politics and the media, including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.

In his first remarks since Sayoc was arrested, President Donald Trump said that Sayoc will be prosecuted "to the fullest extent of the law." He declared that "we must never allow political violence to take root in America" and that Americans "must unify." Similar to his comments earlier in the week, he did not mention that the package recipients were all Democrats or officials in Obama's administration, in addition to CNN, a news network he criticizes frequently.

At least 12 suspicious packages containing explosive devices were found this week addressed to prominent figures, both political and in the media, who have opposed Trump. None of the explosive devices detonated, and it wasn't immediately clear if they were intended to cause physical harm or to simply ignite fear and anxiety.

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Law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that the devices, containing timers and batteries, were not rigged to explode upon opening. But they were uncertain whether the devices were poorly designed or never intended to cause physical harm.

The latest packages intercepted were addressed to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Authorities intercepted the packaged addressed to Clapper (as well as CNN's office in New York) in a Manhattan mail office and found the package addressed to Booker in Florida.