Mail-bomb plot investigation continues in Opa-locka

Several pipe-bomb packages mailed from South Florida, sources say

By Christian De La Rosa - Reporter, Andrea Torres - Digital Reporter/Producer, Associated Press

OPA-LOCKA, Fla. - Miami-Dade Police Department officers were working with the FBI in Opa-locka on Thursday night, as law enforcement sources say the manhunt in the mail-bomb plot is intensifying in South Florida. 

According to Miami-Dade Police Department Detective Argemis Colome, the department's bomb squad and K-9 unit are assisting federal agents at the United States Postal Service Opa-locka Mail Facility

"The assistance is a precautionary measure," Colome said. "We cannot provide additional information at this time due to the active nature of this federal investigation."

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, in an interview Thursday night with Fox News Channel, acknowledged that many of the packages were mailed from Florida and processed at several facilities, but she did not say if Opa-locka was one of them. 

Authorities said there were also packages mailed from New York and Maryland and cautioned that there could be additional devices in the postal system. U.S. Postal Inspection Service spokesman Philip Bartlett says that postal employees and inspectors are searching mail facilities for packages matching the 10 sent over the last four days.

This is a photograph of the suspicious package sent to Robert De Niro in New York.

NOT 'HOAX' DEVICES

The bombs seized Wednesday were about 6 inches long and packed with powder and broken glass, according to a law enforcement official who viewed X-ray images. The official said the devices were made from PVC pipe and covered with black tape.

"As far as a hoax device, we’re not treating it that way," Police Commissioner James O’Neill said.

The new packages discovered Thursday set off a new wave of alarm.

The Secret Service, US Postal Inspector Service and ATF are also working on the investigation. Investigators from dozens of federal, state and local agencies were working to identify one or more perpetrators.

CNN Video

In all, 10 packages had been discovered through Thursday containing similar explosives. The would-be targets included former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, former Vice President Joe Biden, actor Robert De Niro, CNN and others. 

The devices in the four-day mail-bomb scare were being examined by technicians at the FBI’s forensics lab in Quantico, Virginia. 

Investigators were also analyzing the mechanics of the crude devices to reveal whether they were intended to detonate or simply sow fear two weeks before Election Day.

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FORT LAUDERDALE

During a campaign event on Thursday, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz got emotional at a Fort Lauderdale-area synagogue as she briefly talked about her name appearing in the return address on 10 suspicious packages sent to prominent critics of President Donald Trump.

One of the packages was delivered to her Sunrise office Wednesday when it was returned by the Postal Service. Her name was misspelled on the label. It was addressed to Eric Holder, former U.S. Attorney General under Obama.

Her voice breaking, she said her staff handled the threat with bravery.

"We will never be cowed into submission by people who hate," Wasserman Schultz said.  

FBI

This is one of several similar packages sent to former and current political figures across the country.

'ANGER' IN OUR SOCIETY

The packages stoked nationwide tensions and fears as voters prepared to vote Nov. 6 to determine partisan control of Congress — a campaign both parties have described in perilous terms. Even with the sender still unknown, politicians from both parties used the moment to decry a toxic political climate and lay blame.

"A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News," Trump said on Twitter. "It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!"

Former CIA Director John Brennan, the target of a package sent to CNN, fired back.

"Stop blaming others. Look in the mirror," Brennan tweeted. "Your inflammatory rhetoric, insults, lies, & encouragement of physical violence are disgraceful. Clean up your act....try to act Presidential."

Authorities were asking anyone with information about the packages to call the FBI at 1-800-225-5324.

 

Copyright 2018 by WPLG Local10.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.