In a complaint unsealed Thursday in the Southern District of New York, Eddie Manuel Nunez Santos, aka Lucas, 33, of Lima, Peru, was charged with making hoax bomb threats to more than 150 school districts, synagogues, airports, hospitals, and a shopping mall between Sept. 15 and Sept. 21. The threats spanned multiple states, including New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Alaska, and resulted in massive disruptions to the targeted communities, including evacuations of thousands of schoolchildren, a lockdown of a hospital, and flight delays. Nunez Santos is also charged with attempting to induce a 15-year-old girl to take and send him nude and sexually explicit photographs, and he allegedly sent the bomb threats in retaliation against her and other minors after they refused his requests for child pornography.
Nunez Santos was arrested on Sept. 26 by Peruvian authorities in Lima, Peru, based on the charges in the complaint.
“As alleged, the defendant’s relentless campaign of false bomb threats caused an immediate mobilization by federal and state authorities, diverting critical law enforcement and public safety resources, and caused fear in hundreds of communities across this country,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York in a release. “The defendant allegedly engaged in this reprehensible and socially destructive conduct in a twisted attempt to retaliate against teenage girls who refused his requests for nude and sexually explicit photographs. The charges unsealed today show that those who engage in such conduct, wreaking havoc on our communities, will not find safe haven merely because they do it from outside our borders. Working together with our law enforcement partners, we will find you, and we will prosecute you.”
“Not only did Santos allegedly email hundreds of hoax bomb threats terrorizing schools, hospitals, and houses of worship, he also perversely tried to sextort innocent teenage girls. His actions wasted limited law enforcement resources, put first responders in unnecessary danger, and victimized children,” said Assistant Director in Charge James Smith of the FBI New York Field Office. “The FBI will not tolerate anyone who seeks to induce fear in our communities, and we will do whatever it takes to put the perpetrators of such actions behind bars, regardless of their location.”
As alleged in the complaint filed in Manhattan federal court: On Sept. 15, the FBI began receiving reports of bomb threats, sent primarily via email or online contact forms, to various institutions located across New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Arizona, and Alaska. Through its investigation, including the examination of email, phone, and Internet Protocol (IP) address data, the FBI was able to determine that Nunez Santos was responsible for sending the threats. The threats sent by Nunez Santos all contained substantially similar content and targeted schools, synagogues, airports, hospitals, and a shopping mall.
For example, on Sept. 17, Nunez Santos sent the following threat by email to a synagogue in Westchester County:
I placed multiple bombs inside the Jewish Center. The bombs I placed in the building will blow up in a few hours. Many people will lay in a pool of blood.
As another example, on Sept. 20, Nunez Santos sent emails containing the following threats to approximately 24 school districts in Pennsylvania:
I placed multiple bombs in all of the schools from your School Districts. The bombs will blow up in a few hours. I’ll gladly smile when your families are crying because of your deaths.
In total, between Sept. 15 and Sept. 21, the FBI received reports of well over 150 such threats, all containing substantially similar language. These threats triggered emergency law enforcement responses and resulted in significant disruptions to the targeted institutions and areas, including school evacuations and closures, airline flight delays, and a lockdown of a hospital. For example, as a result of just one of Nunez Santos’s bomb threats sent on Sept. 19, more than 1,100 schoolchildren across approximately 20 different schools were evacuated in Pennsylvania.
Multiple of Nunez Santos’s bomb threats also included references to particular phone numbers or a particular IP address and a directive for the targeted institutions receiving the threats to contact those numbers or that IP address. The FBI determined that those phone numbers and IP address were used by certain minor females, including a 17-year-old girl residing in Pennsylvania, a 13-year-old girl residing in Pennsylvania, and a 15-year-old girl residing in New York. Each of those girls had engaged in online communications with Nunez Santos, who used the alias “Lucas” and represented himself to be 15 years old, and in those communications, Nunez Santos repeatedly asked at least two of the girls to send him nude photographs of themselves. When the girls refused his requests or cut off communications with him, Nunez Santos threatened to bomb their schools or kill them, and he sent the aforementioned bomb threats to schools in their areas with directives for the targeted institutions to contact the girls.
Nunez Santos is charged with (i) transmitting threatening interstate communications, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; (ii) conveying false information and hoaxes, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; (iii) attempting to sexually exploit a child, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison; (iv) attempting to coerce and entice a minor, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison; and (v) attempting to receive child pornography, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding efforts of The FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which consists of investigators and analysts from the FBI, the New York City Police Department, and over 50 other federal, state, and local agencies investigated the case, with assistance from the FBI’s New York (Westchester Resident Agency), Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Sacramento, Anchorage, Phoenix, New Haven, Buffalo, and Albany Field Offices; the FBI’s Legal Attaché office in Peru; the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, Counterterrorism Section; the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs; and Peruvian law enforcement authorities for their assistance.
The Southern District of New York’s National Security and International Narcotics Unit handled the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Bodansky for the Southern District of New York is prosecuting the case, with assistance from Trial Attorney James Donnelly of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.
A criminal complaint is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.