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Press Release

Florida Man Charged for Attempt to Use Explosive Device

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

James Gonzalo Medina, 40, of Hollywood, Florida, was charged Saturday by criminal complaint with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction – an explosive device – at a synagogue in Aventura, Florida.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida and Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Division made the announcement.

The arrest was the culmination of an undercover operation during which Medina was closely monitored by the South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).  The explosive device that he allegedly sought and attempted to use had been rendered inoperable by law enforcement and posed no threat to the public.

According to allegations contained in the complaint, in March 2016, Medina came to the attention of the FBI due to his conversations about attacking a synagogue in South Florida.  The FBI was able to gauge Medina’s interest in the plot and collect evidence through the use of a confidential human source (CHS).  Medina expressed anti-Semitic views and identified to the CHS the target of his attack, a Jewish synagogue in Aventura.

The complaint further alleges that Medina wanted to use an explosive device to commit the attack and engaged the CHS and an undercover FBI employee about the details of his planned criminal conduct.  In preparation for the proposed attack, Medina studied the synagogue property to assess its vulnerabilities.  On April 29, 2016, Medina took possession of an inert explosive device and was arrested while approaching the synagogue.  Medina was under FBI surveillance and, once the FBI became involved, it worked to effectively mitigate any danger posed to the public.

A complaint is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.  If convicted, Medina faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. 

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Miami Division and the South Florida JTTF.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karen E. Gilbert and Marc S. Anton of the Southern District of Florida, and Trial Attorney Taryn Meeks of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Medina Complaint

Updated May 2, 2016

National Security
Press Release Number: 16-518