South Florida Resident Charged For Attempt to Use Explosive Device
James Gonzalo Medina was charged Saturday by criminal complaint with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction - an explosive device – at a synagogue in Aventura, Florida.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, Unites States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, John P. Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and members of the South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), made the announcement.
James Gonzalo Medina, 40, of Hollywood, Florida, is charged by criminal complaint with knowingly attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against a person or property within the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2332a(a)(2). If convicted, Medina faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
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.
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.
A complaint is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.