Plantation, FL – The suspect arrested in connection with a series of possible explosive devices mailed to prominent Democrats across the United States has an extensive criminal history, including making a bomb threat.
Auto Zone employees heard a loud explosion out in the parking lot, and saw law enforcement officers surrounding a white van plastered with bumper stickers and various decals.
The officers located Sayoc inside the vehicle, and placed him under arrest.
Sayoc is not affiliated with Auto Zone, according to the employees.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the decals and stickers on the van covered the van’s windows, and many referred to President Donald Trump. Others referred to anti-socialist and anti-immigration ideals.
At least one decal resembled the Presidential seal, NBC News reported.
Investigators wrapped the van in a blue tarp, then loaded it onto a flatbed truck and hauled it away, CNN aerial footage showed.
Sayoc, a former New York resident who has been residing in Aventura, Florida, is currently in custody, FOX News reported.
The charges against him are expected to be announced during a Department of Justice Press conference slated for Friday afternoon.
“I am pleased to inform you that law enforcement has apprehended the suspect and taken him into custody,” President Donald Trump announced on Friday. “It’s an incredible job by law enforcement.”
“We’ve carried out a far-reaching federal, state, and local investigation, to find the person or persons responsible for these events,” the President continued. “These terrorizing acts are despicable, and have no place in our country.”
President Trump also thanked law enforcement officers across the country for their service, calling them “incredible partners.”
“These people have worked so hard, and to have done it so quickly,” the President said. “It’s a needle in a haystack…They’ve done an incredible job, and I want to congratulate them.”
“We will prosecute…to the fullest extent of the law,” he said. “We must never allow political violence to take root in America…I’m committed to doing everything in my power, as President, to stop it.”
Sayoc has an extensive criminal history for a wide variety of offenses, beginning in 1991 with a felony third-degree grand theft, Heavy reported.
In both 1992 and 2015, he was arrested for theft, and his mother sought a domestic violence injunction against him in 1994.
In 2002, he was arrested in Miami-Dade County for threatening to throw, place or discharge a destructive device, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
In that case, Sayoc threatened to blow up Florida Power & Light, a utility company, and said the result “would be worse than September 11th,” TMZ reported.
Sayoc was convicted and sentenced to one year of probation.
According to Heavy, prosecutors agreed to withhold adjudication on the offense, so the charge was dismissed after Sayoc’s probation term ended in 2003.
In 2004, he was charged for possessing and selling steroids, tampering with evidence, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, criminal use of personal identification information, possession or unlawful issue of a driver’s license, and filing fraudulent tax returns.
Despite the litany of charges, he was sentenced to just 18 months of probation.
Sayoc was arrested on felony third-degree grand theft and battery in 2013, and was given another probation sentence as a result.
He violated probation and was charged with petit theft in 2014, which landed him in jail for 30 days.
Sayoc, who also uses the last name of Altieri on various social media platforms, allegedly threatened former congressional press secretary and political commentator Rochelle Ritchie on Twitter earlier this month.
“So you like to make threats,” wrote Sayoc, a Seminole Native American. “We Unconquered Seminole Tribe will answer your threats. We have a nice silent Air boat ride for u here on our land Everglades Swamp. We will see you 4 sure. Hug your loved ones real close every time you leave home.”
Ritchie reported the threat to Twitter, but was told that Sayoc’s message was not a violation of the platform’s abusive behavior rule.
Rochelle blasted the social media company in a tweet on Friday, as news of Sayoc’s arrest spread.
Despite repeated claims to be Seminole, a tribe spokesman claims he has no affiliation with the tribe.
According to Sayoc’s LinkedIn profile, he claims to be employed as a choreographer, promoter and booking agent for burlesque shows and live entertainment events in North Miami Beach.
He said he also worked for Chippendales, which the company has vehemently denied, TMZ reported.
Sayoc has also owned companies, including Proud Native America One Low Price Drycleaning and Native American catering & Vending, the Metro reported.
Authorities have now found a total of 12 suspicious packages, with the addition of one for U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and one for former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper found on Friday morning.
Authorities recovered a package addressed to Booker, similar in appearance to the 10 others that contained pipe bomb-like materials, inside a postal facility near Opa-locka, Florida.
That postal facility became a focal point in to the federal investigation as it appears several of the packages may have passed through the facility, sources told WABC.
The Miami-Dade bomb squad conducted a sweep of the facility at the request of federal law enforcement.
The package addressed to Clapper was discovered on Friday morning at the West 52nd street post office in Manhattan, and addressed to CNN at the Time Warner Center, according to WCBS.
It was the second package containing bomb-like materials to be sent to CNN this week.
The first was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, and it caused “CNN Newsroom” to cut its live news feed as reporters and staff evacuated the building on Wednesday morning.
The New York Police Department shut down several blocks around the affected area while they investigated, USA Today reported.
Bomb-like devices were also sent to Democratic billionaire donor George Soros, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, former Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Representative Maxine Waters (D-California), actor Robert De Niro, and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Biden received two of the crude pipe bombs, but both packages were intercepted by a post office in Wilmington, Delaware, WABC reported.
The return address on at least one of the packages to Biden was U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whose name appeared as the sender on several of the packages sent.
On Wednesday, Wasserman Schultz received the package intended for Holder at her Sunrise office because of a bad address.
Law enforcement are investigating the bombs as a domestic terror threat, WJW reported.
The bombs have been taken to the FBI lab in Quantico for investigation.
Sources have said officials are puzzled by the fact that none of the pipe bomb-like devices have detonated, raising questions about both the motives and the skill level of the bombmaker, WJW reported.
There are two theories about what the FBI has referred to as “potentially-destructive devices” – either the bombs were poorly constructed, or they were never intended to explode.
WJW reported that authorities considered the contents of the packages potentially destructive because of the presence of what is believed to be pyrotechnic powder, although nothing exploded during transport.
The lack of a triggering mechanism on the devices also suggested they were never meant to actually detonate, according to outside explosives experts.
“Whoever is doing this is just trying to elicit a fear or disrupt something,” Tripwire Operations Group Founder Ryan Morris said, prior to Sayoc’s arrest.
His company provides explosives training to police and military, WJW reported.
Morris examined images of the devices sent to Soros and to CNN’s New York offices, and commented “there are a multitude of more sophisticated methodologies that would have worked if they really wanted this to work.”
The devices are made up of common components, which makes investigation more difficult, WJW reported.
New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill said it was unclear if there were still more bombs waiting to be delivered.
“But with the postal services that are here, we’re doing our best to make sure that if there are any out there we identify them quickly,” Commissioner O’Neill said.
In response to the threat, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced late Wednesday night that he was bringing in the National Guard to assist with security, WABC reported.
“Out of an abundance of caution, I am deploying 100 additional National Guard soldiers and directing State law enforcement to double security at vital assets across New York, including LaGuardia and JFK, mass transit systems, and bridges and tunnels,” the governor said.
A Department of Justice is expected to provide updates regarding the case against Sayoc during a press conference scheduled for Friday afternoon, FOX News reported.