South Florida Man Pleads Guilty to Hate Crime for Threatening to Blow Up Mosque
The Justice Department today announced that Dustin Allen Hughes, 26, of Cutler Bay, Florida, pleaded guilty yesterday in the Southern District of Florida to one count of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs through the threatened use of a dangerous weapon and explosive, in connection with making a phone call in which he threatened to detonate a bomb at a mosque in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
During the plea hearing, Hughes admitted that on May 5, he called an emergency contact for the Jamaat Ul Muttaqeen Mosque of Pembroke Pines, Florida, and left a hate-filled and profanity-laden voicemail message denigrating Islam and threatening to blow up the mosque. Hughes further admitted that in his message he specifically stated that he had a detonator, that he was “going to blow your . . . temple up,” and that “you guys are all going to be up in flames after I’m done with you.”
Following the threatening voice message, law enforcement was contacted and immediately responded, but no bomb was uncovered after an extensive exterior and interior sweep of the mosque was conducted.
Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 6 before U.S. District Judge Federico A. Moreno in Miami. Hughes faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
“Our office is committed to protecting the right to freely exercise one’s religious beliefs,” said United States Attorney Benjamin Greenberg for the Southern District of Florida. “Obstructing this right, by force or threat of force, constitutes a hate crime that we will continue to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.”
“The Justice Department will not tolerate threats of hate violence, which threaten an entire community’s sense of safety and security,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute hate crimes so that all people, no matter how they worship, can live their lives freely and without fear.”
“Freedom of religion is a fundamental right for every American,” said Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Miami Field Office. “The FBI and its partners will work tirelessly to ensure anyone who threatens those rights is held accountable.”
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Miami Area Corruption Task Force and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). The Pembroke Pines Police Department, Miami-Dade Police Department and the City of Miami Police Department also provided assistance with this matter. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Davis of the Southern District of Florida and Trial Attorney Samantha Trepel of the Civil Rights Division.