UPDATE 2 – Suspect arrested in Florida over explosive packages

CHANGES DECK, ADDS DETAILS THROUGHOUT

By Umar Farooq

WASHINGTON (AA) – Authorities made an arrest Friday in connection to packages mailed to leading Democrats and critics of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Cesar Sayoc, 56, was arrested by authorities 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of Miami, Florida and faces five federal crimes, including transportation of an explosive and threatening a former president of the U.S.

He potentially could face up to 58 years in prison, according to Attorney General Jeff Sessions who noted the suspect is "innocent until proven guilty".

"Let this be a lesson to anyone, regardless of their political beliefs, that we will bring the full force of law against anyone who attempts to use threats and intimidation and outright violence to further an agenda," Sessions said at a news conference.

The FBI said a connection was made to Sayoc using DNA evidence from a fingerprint that was found on one of the packages that had been sent to congresswoman Maxine Waters.

FBI Director Chris Wray confirmed at least 13 explosive devices were sent to individuals across the country.

"Though we are still analyzing these devices in our laboratory, these are not hoax devices," said Wray.

Senator Kamala Harris and Democratic donor Tom Steyer became the latest political figures to have been sent packages containing an explosive device, according to multiple reports.

They were the fourth packages discovered Friday along with others addressed to former U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker.

Similar packages were sent to billionaire philanthropist George Soros, former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Eric Holder, former CIA director John Brennan, former Vice President Joe Biden and actor Robert de Niro, all with the return address of Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz's office.

Trump praised the efforts of law enforcement in making the arrest, and again called for unity throughout the country.

"It was an incredible job by law enforcement," Trump said at the White House. "And we must show the world that we are united together in peace and love and harmony as fellow American citizens."

"These terrorizing acts are despicable and have no place in our country," he added.

A senior FBI official likened the packages to domestic terrorism.

"The utilization of violence in order to further one’s own political agenda is unacceptable," said FBI Special Agent Bryan Paarmann.

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