Federal authorities made an arrest on Friday in connection with the nationwide bombing campaign against outspoken critics of President Donald Trump, a significant breakthrough in a case that has gripped the country in the days leading up to the midterm elections.
A law enforcement official identified the suspect as Cesar Sayoc, Jr., 56, of Aventura, Florida, just north of Miami.
Sayoc, a registered Republican, has a lengthy criminal history in Florida dating back to 1991 that includes felony theft, drug and fraud charges, as well as being arrested and accused of threatening to use a bomb, public records show.
His criminal record from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement indicates that at the time of his last arrest in 2015, he was 5-foot-11 and 215 pounds. He has brown eyes, black hair and a scar on his left arm, the records said, and was born in New York. The records listed Sayoc’s occupation as “manager.”
On Friday morning, Florida news organizations reported that the authorities had surrounded a white van with Trump stickers on it, and television news outlets later showed images of authorities hauling the van away on a truck underneath a tarp. But it remained unclear if the van belonged to Sayoc.
Some residents of Aventura reported seeing a similar white van covered in Trump stickers often parked in the lot of a local strip mall, the Aventura Waterways shopping center. But it was not clear if that van was the same one seized by police on Friday.
Sayoc’s arrest came only hours after the mysterious spate of pipe bombs spread further as federal authorities said on Friday morning that they had found two more of the explosive devices: one addressed to Sen. Cory Booker and the other to James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence.
Although no formal charges have been filed yet in the case, two of the law enforcement officials said there was a high likelihood that Sayoc would be prosecuted at least in part in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The FBI’s New York office has been leading the investigation and five of the bombs sent this week fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan.