What The Criminal Complaint Revealed About Mail Bomb Suspect Cesar Sayoc

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A criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of New York Friday shed new light on the motivations and techniques of suspected serial mail bomber Cesar Sayoc.

Sayoc is alleged to have sent 13 improvised explosive devices to high-profile Democratic politicians and critics of President Trump this week. He was charged with one count of interstate transportation of an explosive, one count of illegal mailing of explosives, one count of threats against former presidents and others, one count of threatening interstate communications, and one count of assaulting federal officers.

The 11-page complaint, which included only the information the FBI needed to obtain a warrant for Sayoc’s arrest, confirms that the 56-year-old Florida resident shared conspiratorial memes against his targets on social media. An affidavit provided by FBI special agent David Brown also confirms basic biographical info about Sayoc, who is currently in federal custody in Florida.

  • Sayoc’s middle name is Altieri. Sayoc used the name in several of his social media accounts, including a now-deleted Facebook page under the name Cesar Altieri and a Twitter account under the same name.
  • The white van papered with inflammatory material that was captured by local media outlets during Sayoc’s arrest did in fact belong to him. Images of the van—which is covered in pro-Trump paraphernalia, photos of Hillary Clinton and progressive filmmaker Michael Moore with their face obscured by rifle sights, an image of former president Barack Obama in a diaper, and a sticker reading “CNN sucks”—circulated on Twitter on Friday morning before Sayoc’s identity was confirmed. The complaint mentions that he was arrested “in the vicinity of his white van,” which had windows “covered with images including images critical of CNN.” CNN reported Sayoc has been living in the van.
  • Some of the bombs were sent along with photos of the “target-recipient marked with a red ‘X.’” Billionaire George Soros, Obama, former CIA Director John Brennan, and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) were among the individuals sent these images.
  • The FBI considered the package mailed to Brennan, which was addressed care of CNN, a threat to him rather than the news network. Brennan actually serves as a contributor to MSNBC and NBC, not CNN. Both the former CIA director and various CNN personalities have clashed publicly with Trump.
  • All of the bombs were made the same way and sent in identical packaging. They consisted of “approximately six inches of PVC pipe, a small clock, a battery, wiring, and energetic material,” which “gives off heat and energy” when initiated by “heat, shock or friction.” They were sent in manila envelopes with the mailing and return addresses typed in black font on white paper. Each was posted with six American flag stamps.
  • Sayoc’s poor spelling helped law enforcement catch him. The complaint confirmed that Sayoc maintained the Cesar Altieri Twitter account, and that the page featured “various posts with misspellings consistent with the Packages, including ‘Hilary, rather than ‘Hillary,’ ‘Shultz rather than ‘Schultz.’”
  • The FBI also used that Twitter account to help confirm Sayoc’s alleged antipathy towards the targets in the mail bombings. A post dated Oct. 24, “after the recovery of the Soros package” is critical of both President Barack Obama and George Soros.
  • FBI agents found a “latent fingerprint” on the envelope containing the explosive that he sent to Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters that they identified as Sayoc’s. Sayoc has a decades-long criminal history in Florida for charges ranging from battery to making a bomb threat against a Florida utility company.
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