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Press Release

Bronx Man Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court To 70 Months In Prison For Building Improvised Explosive Device

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

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that CHRISTIAN TORO was sentenced today by United States District Judge Richard M. Berman to 70 months in prison for stockpiling explosive materials and manufacture of a destructive device.  TORO previously pled guilty before Judge Berman.  Tyler Toro, TORO’s co-defendant and brother, who also pled guilty, is scheduled to be sentenced on May 29, 2019.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Today’s sentence serves as a message that building and stockpiling destructive devices are grave offenses in and of themselves.  Thanks to the outstanding work of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in eliminating this destructive threat in its nascent stages, Christian Toro and his brother were apprehended before they could carry out any attack with the device they were building.  Christian Toro has nevertheless received a substantial sentence for seriously endangering the public (including minor children) and inspiring fear throughout his community with his conduct.”

According to the allegations in the Complaint, the Indictment, and statements made during court proceedings:

Between approximately October 2017 and February 2018, CHRISTIAN TORO and Tyler Toro conspired to build and possess a destructive device at their residence in the Bronx, New York (the “Residence”).  CHRISTIAN TORO, a former teacher at a high school in Harlem, New York (the “School”), paid students from the School for their assistance in manufacturing the destructive device, giving them approximately $50 per hour in return for the students’ work dismantling fireworks and storing the explosive powder contained within those fireworks in containers.  TORO encouraged one of those students to call in a bomb threat to the School in December 2017.  TORO also had on his School laptop a copy of a book that provided instructions for, among other things, manufacturing explosive devices.

On February 15, 2018, law enforcement agents searched the Residence pursuant to a judicially authorized search warrant.  In a bedroom shared by TORO and Tyler Toro, law enforcement agents recovered the components for building an improvised explosive device and other dangerous substances, including: (i) a glass jar containing low explosive powder; (ii) a strip of magnesium metal; (iii) approximately 20 pounds of iron oxide; (iv) approximately five pounds of aluminum powder; (v) a mixture of iron oxide and aluminum powder, the key ingredients for thermite (used in incendiary bombs); (vi) approximately five pounds of potassium nitrate; (vii) a cardboard box containing firecrackers; and (viii) metal spheres and C02 cartridges, which can be used as fragmentation for a bomb.  On the Residence’s fire escape, agents also found a jar of improvised napalm, consisting of gasoline and Styrofoam.

Also in the Residence, law enforcement agents found a handwritten diary labeled with Tyler Toro’s name, which stated, among other things, “WE ARE TWIN TOROS STRIKE US NOW, WE WILL RETURN WITH NANO THERMITE” and “I AM HERE 100%, LIVING, BUYING WEAPONS.  WHATEVER WE NEED.”  Agents also recovered a page inside a notebook found in the Residence labeled “Operation Flash,” with a ledger appearing to delineate the hours worked and payment owed to one of the School’s students for that student’s work on the destructive device.

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In addition to his prison sentence, CHRISTIAN TORO, 28, was sentenced to three years of supervised release.

Mr. Berman praised the excellent work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (“FBI”) New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which principally consists of agents from the FBI and detectives from the New York City Police Department.

This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant United States Attorney Elizabeth A. Hanft is in charge of the prosecution.

Updated May 22, 2019

Press Release Number: 19-161