On June 29, a federal judge in South Florida sentenced an inmate to three years in federal prison for mailing threatening communications to a Miami federal courthouse. Freddy Velazquez, 47, mailed the threats from a state prison in Monticello, Florida, where he was serving a sentence on a prior conviction.
According to court documents, Velasquez, while in state prison, wrote and mailed a letter to the Wilkie D. Ferguson Federal Courthouse in downtown Miami. Among other things, the letter said that, “[i]nside this letter, you [will] find ‘chemicals’ that are going to kill many of you…I hate all of you pigs and hope you all die. I fight you all till you all die.” Along with the letter, Velasquez put a powdery white substance inside the mailing envelope that he addressed to the courthouse. Velazquez put his name and prison location on the return address section of the envelope.
On February 15, 2019, a federal courthouse employee opened Velasquez’s envelope. When the employee saw the white powder — a possible biological substance — the employee triggered the emergency protocols that are in place to handle such situations. Occupants of the courthouse evacuated the building. Four federal law enforcement agencies and a City of Miami Police Department Hazardous Materials (Hazmat) Unit responded to the potential biological threat. For about eight hours, law enforcement shut down traffic on several blocks around the downtown Miami courthouse. The courthouse employee who opened the envelope and discovered the powder underwent a decontamination process inside a biohazard tent, followed by a visit to a local hospital.
Testing showed that the white powder was not hazardous or a biological material. Additional testing found that the powder was consistent with detergent. When asked about the mailing, Velazquez admitted that he wrote the letter and addressed the envelope, that the letter correctly described his feelings, and that he put white powder in the envelope to trigger an emergency response from law enforcement.
On February 4, 2020, Velazquez pled guilty to mailing a threatening communication, a violation of federal law.
U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended the efforts of the FBI, United States Marshals Service, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Protective Service, and City of Miami Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bertila Fernandez and Andrea Goldbarg prosecuted this case.