US authorities have charged a Florida Man, Cesar Hayoc, with five federal crimes in connection with a series of explosive-laden packages sent to former presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama as well as to high-ranking politicians like Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and to Hollywood star Robert de Niro.
Hayoc, who was arrested on Friday, was charged with interstate transportation of an explosive, illegal mailing of explosives, threats against former presidents and certain other persons, threatening interstate communications, and assaulting current and former federal officers. The 56-year-old, who has a criminal history, faces up to 58 years in prison.
Speaking in a press conference, FBI director Chris Wray said the suspect was identified on the basis of finger prints from one of the 13 package bombs recovered so far, which was matched with the DNA samples.
“Political violence or the threat of violence is antithetical to our vigorous system of self-government. It is a threat to that respect for law and process that allows our people to accept legislation, elections, court rulings with which they do not agree,” Wray said.
Description of the device
Each device consisted of roughly six inches of PVC pipe, a small clock, a battery, some wiring and what is known as energetic material, which is essentially potential explosives and material that give off heat and energy through a reaction to heat, shock, or friction.
US President Donald Trump hailed the services of the law enforcement agencies and added that no one will be spared. “We’ve carried out a far-reaching federal, state and local investigation to find the person or persons responsible for these events. These terrorising acts are despicable, and have no place in our country. We must never allow political violence to take root in America—cannot let it happen, and I’m committed to doing everything in my power as president to stop it, and to stop it now,” Trump said.
Two suspicious packages addressed to Indian-origin Senator Kamala Harris and billionaire Democrat Tom Steyer were recovered, taking the number of such packages to 14.
Kamala, a rising star in the opposition Democratic Party and a potential presidential candidate, is the first Indian-origin US Senator. She represents the state of California.
The FBI said the suspicious package addressed to her was recovered from California. The federal investigating agency also confirmed that a package has been intercepted in California, similar in appearance to the others, addressed to Tom Steyer.
In New York, the FBI intercepted another suspicious package addressed to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.