A 20-year-old South Florida man was arrested for threatening the president of the United States during President Barack Obama’s trip to Miami, authorities said.
On Thursday federal agents raided the west Miami-Dade home of Joaquin Amador Serrapio Jr., at 236 SW 136th Place. He was taken into custody before he could make any attempt to harm the president, authorities said.
They said Serrapio was arrested for making threats against the president, a federal felony that could bring a five-year prison term if he is convicted.
Serrapio pleaded not guilty before a federal magistrate, who set his cash bond at $20,000, in addition to a $50,000 personal surety bond that his parents signed, according to court records.
Neighbors said Serrapio’s street was full of federal agents and county police Thursday – the day that Obama made a big policy speech on energy at the University of Miami and held two fundraisers in the area.
Secret Service and FBI agents working with White House advance teams keep close tabs on anyone who they believe could be a credible threat to the president, and federal agents were evidently concerned enough about Serrapio to take him off the streets and into custody. It is unclear what the exact threats that he allegedly made are.
No one answered the door or the phone Monday afternoon at the home where neighbors say Serrapio lives. County property records indicate that his parents own the residence.
Threatening the president is a serious federal offense, experts say – and it does not matter if you do not really intend to carry out the threat.
"It really doesn't. As long as you have the ability to – the present ability or the future ability to – then you are subject to being prosecuted under the statute," said attorney Brian Bieber of the Miami law firm Hirschhorn & Bieber, who has experience in federal criminal defense.
He said that statute requires you to post a bond to get out of federal detention.
"Although the details haven't been released yet, we know that the bond amount is relatively low, suggesting that this is not up there with the most serious kind of threats on the president," Bieber said.
Serrapio is due to be arraigned in federal court on March 9.
NBC 6's Jeff Burnside contributed reporting.