A Peruvian man faces charges in the US for allegedly sending hoax bomb threats to synagogues, airports and hospitals after teen girls refused to send him nude photographs.
Prosecutors say that 33-year-old Eddie Manuel Núñez Santos posed as a 15-year-old boy online and asked teen girls in the US to send nudes to him.
Mr Núñez Santos then allegedly threatened to bomb their schools or kill them after they refused his requests or cut off communications with him.
The suspect reportedly sent bomb threats to more than 150 school districts, synagogues, airports, hospitals, and a shopping mall between 15 and 21 September.
“The threats spanned multiple states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Arizona, and Alaska, and resulted in massive disruptions to the targeted communities, including evacuations of thousands of schoolchildren, a lockdown of a hospital, and flight delays,” the Justice Department said in a statement.
Mr Núñez Santos was taken into custody on Tuesday by Peruvian authorities in Lima.
US Attorney Damian Williams said that the threats diverted critical law enforcement and public safety resources, and sparked fear in hundreds of communities.
“His actions wasted limited law enforcement resources, put first responders in unnecessary danger, and victimized children,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge James Smith also said. “The FBI will not tolerate anyone who seeks to induce fear in our communities, and we will do whatever it takes to put the perpetrators of such actions behind bars, regardless of their location.”
The bomb threats were sent via email or online contact forms and had similar language, with the suspect allegedly writing that the bombs would blow up “in a few hours and that “many people would lay in a pool of blood.”
More than 1,100 schoolchildren across 20 different schools were evacuated after a threat was sent to a school in Pennsylvania on 19 September.
“I placed multiple bombs in all of the schools from your School Districts,” one of the messages read. “The bombs will blow up in a few hours. I’ll gladly smile when your families are crying because of your deaths.”
In the threats, Mr Núñez Santos allegedly referenced specific phone numbers or IP addresses that authorities linked to teenage girls. Investigators later determined that the teens had engaged in conversation online with a man who called himself “Lucas.”
Núñez Santos faces charges of transmitting threatening interstate communication, conveying false information and hoaxes, attempting to sexually exploit a child, attempting to coerce and entice a minor and attempting to receive child pornography.