Passenger charged in making threats to take down airplane

Francisco Fernandez Cruz charged in threats

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MIAMI - A citizen of Brazil was charged Friday with sending threatening emails, claiming that a TAM Airline flight from Miami to Brasilia "will go down."

Officials said the email was sent by Francisco Fernando Cruz to Miami Dade Police Department and TAM Airlines on Jan. 8, specifically threatening a plane that was to depart on Friday.

The threat read, "Flight must not take off. Targeted. It will go down. Retaliation. Cargo is dangerous. Be advised."

U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, "Law enforcement remains ever vigilant for threats to domestic and international air travel. We will leave no stone unturned when a threat to the safety of air passengers is made and to ensure that justice is served."

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle stated, "The protection of our flying public depends on the skills and expertise of our federal, state, and local law enforcement team. This case shows that South Florida's law enforcement professionals, working together like clockwork, will not let fear hamper our ability to travel and live our lives productively."

The origin of the email was traced by MDPD from a computer at Montclair State University in Montclair, N.J. The university was able to identify Cruz by capturing the kiosk he used at the time he sent the email.

"The FBI and its partners take threats of this nature very seriously," said Michael B. Steinbach, special agent in charge of FBI Miami. "Through the hard work of Miami Dade PD, Customs and Border Protection and the FBI's Newark office, the flight was not disrupted."

Officials said Cruz resent the same email the following day. Cruz was scheduled to travel to Brasilia on the flight that he made the threat against.

"Once again, the successful collaboration between federal, state, and local authorities yields an important indictment. The public safety of those traveling is paramount, and any threats made to disrupt it will be investigated without impunity," said J.D. Patterson, director of Miami-Dade Police.

If convicted, Cruz faces a statutory maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The case is set for a pretrial hearing on Jan. 14, and for arraignment on Jan. 24.

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