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Press Release

Traveler who Admitted to Threatening to Blow Up MIA Pleads Guilty

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

Philadelphia resident who traveled to Miami pled guilty today for making false threats to blow up Miami International Airpot (MIA).

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and J.D. Patterson, Jr., Director, Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), made the announcement.

According to court documents, on September 2, 2014, Joseph Reyes Rivera, 23, of Philadelphia Pennsylvania, and his stepfather were traveling from Puerto Rico to Philadelphia, with a connecting flight through MIA. As Rivera walked through Concourse E, the he shouted, “I am going to blow this place up!”

A schoolteacher and a law enforcement officer from London, England overheard Rivera. Concerned for the safety of fellow travelers, the law enforcement officer from London sought out local officials. As he did, the officer noticed a hysterical woman speaking to law enforcement and pointing towards Rivera. Law enforcement officers from FBI and Miami-Dade Police Department made contact with Rivera and his companion who both stated that Rivera threatened to blow up the airport in the presence of several people who appeared to hear the statement. Law enforcement officers searched Rivera and did not find any firearms, explosive devices, or other materials that could be used to effectuate his threat. For that reason, his statement was deemed to be a false threat.

When questioned, Rivera told law enforcement officers that he started yelling at some children who were “disrespecting” him. Rivera indicated that a woman he did not know approached him and told him to leave the children alone. Rivera said he felt disrespected and yelled, “I am going to blow this place up.”

Rivera is scheduled to be sentenced on March 3, 2015, at 9:00 a.m., before U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga. At sentencing, he faces up to five years imprisonment.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and Miami-Dade Police Department, who are members of the Miami Joint Terrorism Task Force. The matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brooke C. Watson.

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 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 March 18, 2015