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Press Release

South Florida Resident Sentenced to Prison for Attacking CBP and TSA Officers at Miami International Airport

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Florida

A South Florida resident was sentenced today to more than 2 years in federal prison for assaulting Customs and Border Protection and Transportation Security Administration officers at Miami International Airport in the fall of 2017.

Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Mark Selby, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI); Diane J. Sabatino, Director, Field Operations, Customs and Border Protection (CBP); and Daniel Ronan, Federal Security Director Miami International Airport, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), made the announcement.  

Nivaldo Emilio Lopez, 33, of Miami, was sentenced by United States District Court Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga to 27 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $9,172 in restitution.  Lopez previously pled guilty to two counts of assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain federal employees, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 111.

According to the court record, on October 25, 2017, Lopez drove to Miami International Airport, left his vehicle curbside at Terminal D, and entered the airport.  Once inside, Lopez began walking back and forth between checkpoints, waving his arms in the air and yelling loudly.  Lopez also made statements to the effect that he was going to blow up the airport. 

A concerned passenger notified law enforcement of Lopez’s conduct.  A CBP officer responded and attempted to deescalate the situation.  Lopez, however, became more aggressive and began yelling at the CBP officer.  The officer put his baton at his side, at which point Lopez attacked the officer.  The defendant struck the CBP officer in the head and a struggle ensued.  During the struggle, Lopez bit the CBP officer’s hand, causing injuries that required medical attention at a local hospital.

During the course of the attack, an on-duty TSA officer working in Terminal D stepped in to help the CBP officer subdue the defendant.  Lopez, however, continued to be aggressive, and struck the TSA officer in the face with a trashcan lid.  Miami-Dade Police Department officers responded to the scene and used a taser to finally subdue the defendant.

Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of ICE-HSI and thanked CBP, TSA and the Miami-Dade Police Department for their assistance in this matter.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Trinity Jordan.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or on

Updated April 17, 2018