Four days after suspicious packages began arriving in the mail for prominent Democrats and critics of President Trump, a suspect is in custody.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY: We have arrested Cesar Sayoc in connection with this investigation.

SHAPIRO: That's FBI Director Christopher Wray announcing the capture. NPR Justice reporter Ryan Lucas joins us now with details. And Ryan, walk us through the drama this morning and the capture of the suspect.

RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: Well, we knew last night that the investigation was focusing on two places, New York and South Florida in particular. And this morning, authorities arrested Sayoc at an AutoZone store north of Miami. There was TV footage showing FBI officials and other law enforcement officers taking custody of a white van that was plastered with pro-Trump stickers near an AutoZone store there. A family attorney says that the van is Sayoc's. Now a criminal complaint has been filed against him in federal court in New York. He faces five counts in all, including illegally mailing explosives and threatening former presidents as well as others.

SHAPIRO: Can you tell us a little bit about the clues and the evidence that led the FBI to him?

LUCAS: It was actually a clue from one of the packages. FBI director Christopher Wray says that the FBI was able to pull a fingerprint off of one of those bubble-lined manila envelopes that we've talked about a lot over the past week. That fingerprint matched Sayoc's.

Wray says there's also a possible DNA connection from some of the homemade pipe bombs that were sent in two separate packages. Those appear to match Sayoc as well. And authorities have also identified a Twitter account that they say belonged to him. And the clue there was some of the words that were misspelled on the packages matched the misspelling on the Twitter account.

SHAPIRO: Wow. I know that you, our librarians, others at NPR have been looking into his background today. Tell us what you've learned about him.

LUCAS: Well, he's 56 years old. He is a resident of South Florida. He registered as a Republican in March of 2016. He has a pretty lengthy criminal history in Florida that includes charges of felony theft and drugs. He was also arrested over a possible bomb threat in 2002. He appears to have really kind of struggled for a very long time to find his place, to maintain a steady income. For example, he filed for bankruptcy back in 2012. On that form, he said that he lived with his mother, that he didn't own any furniture. His occupation on that form, though, he listed as store manager.

SHAPIRO: Today had kind of the hallmarks of a climax of the investigation with the FBI director, the attorney general all talking about it. Now that he's in custody, is that it? What happens next?

LUCAS: Well, the FBI will want to know whether Sayoc was working alone, whether there was somebody who was helping him with this. They'll also want to know whether there are any more packages that were sent but are unaccounted for yet 'cause remember; there were more discovered just this morning. There could still be more out there.

As things stand now, Wray says that each of the 13 devices that have been confirmed had 6 inches of PVC pipe, a small clock, a battery. There was wiring and a potential explosive material. He says that lab analysts are still examining those, but he made clear that these are not hoax devices.

SHAPIRO: And of course one big question is motive. Do you have any information about why he allegedly sent these packages to prominent Democrats, CNN, critics of President Trump and targets of President Trump's criticism?

LUCAS: Well, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was asked that exact question this afternoon. He did not want to say much on the topic. All that he would say is that Sayoc appears to be a partisan, but that will be determined by the facts of the case. I'll say that I've looked through his Twitter postings. There was a lot of pro-Trump sentiment in there, a lot of vitriol directed at Democrats. Authorities of course already have their eyes on that account — so definitely something that authorities are taking a look at.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Ryan Lucas following the investigation and today's arrest. Thanks, Ryan.

LUCAS: Thank you.



















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