Authorities are investigating what was reported to be an explosive device addressed to Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America” known for his strict treatment of jail inmates and cracking down on illegal immigration.
The device intercepted in Flagstaff late Thursday was in a package addressed to Arpaio at his downtown Phoenix office, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
It appeared suspicious, so it was X-rayed and the device was detected. A bomb squad team neutralized the explosive, the statement said.
Tom Mangan, a spokesman in Phoenix for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said initial reports indicated that the package was a box that may have been damaged in transit and leaked gunpowder.
Arpaio said the mailing of an explosive device addressed to him comes with his line of work. He cited the recent killings of a West Virginia sheriff, Colorado’s corrections director and two prosecutors in Texas.
“That’s the nature of the business,” he said. “I’m getting many threats. This isn’t the first time.”
Numerous threats against Arpaio, a hero to many conservatives on immigration, prompted the need for a security detail for the lawman also known for dressing jail inmates in pink underwear and making them sleep in tents in the heat of the Arizona desert.