Washington: The person in custody on suspicion of sending suspicious packages to a dozen prominent people has been identified as Florida resident Cesar Sayoc, US media reported Friday, citing law enforcement sources.
Sayoc was apprehended in a shopping centre in Plantation, Florida, west of Ft. Lauderdale, and authorities seized the white van he was driving.
The van was covered with photos of president Donald Trump and with threatening images against figures such as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – the intended recipient of one of the packages – and filmmaker Michael Moore, Efe reported.
Sayoc, who has a criminal record, resided in Aventura, northeast of Miami and, according to his LinkedIn page, worked in the entertainment industry.
Trump said Friday that the suspect would face “swift and certain justice,” while urging Americans to “unify” against these “despicable” acts.
“I am pleased to inform you that law enforcement has apprehended the suspect and taken him into custody,” Trump said during an event at the White House.
The president said that his administration would prosecute the suspect and anyone else possibly involved to the “fullest extent of the law.”
Trump praised US law enforcement agencies for their “incredible job” capturing the suspect, adding that finding the alleged culprit was like uncovering “a needle in a haystack.”
The president said that the sending of the suspicious packages containing suspected explosives was a “terrorizing” act that has “no place in our country.”
“We must never allow political violence to take root in America. We cannot let it happen. I am committed to do everything in my power as president to stop it and stop it now,” Trump said.
“Americans must unify and we must show the world that we are united together in peace and love and harmony as fellow American citizens,” he added.
The arrest came after 12 people received suspicious packages containing suspected explosives in the last few days, including former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
The last two packages, intercepted on Friday in Florida and New York, were addressed to Democratic Sen. Cory Booker and to former National Intelligence Director James Clapper.
None of the packages exploded, though they have elevated the level of alert of US authorities, as they fear more packages will be found in the coming days.
The FBI said Friday via Twitter that a similar package was found in Florida addressed to Sen. Booker, who is considered to be a possible contender in the 2020 presidential election.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) intercepted a suspicious package on Friday addressed to Clapper at a post office in Manhattan.
The discovery of suspicious packages containing suspected explosives began on Monday, when billionaire philanthropist George Soros, a known Democratic donor, received one at his home in the state of New York.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, two packages were sent to Hillary Clinton and Obama, while other similar packages were sent to former Attorney General Eric Holder, Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters, former CIA Director John Brennan and CNN’s New York offices.
The fact that all of the packages were addressed to members of the Democratic Party or to Trump critics suggests a possible political motivation.
The episode comes less than two weeks ahead of the Nov. 6 mid-term congressional elections.
Trump acknowledged Friday that the discovery of the suspicious packages could affect Republican candidates’ momentum for the mid-term elections, in which a third of the seats in the House of Representatives and all of the seats in the Senate are up for grabs.