Friday, October 21, 2011

TSA Week In Review: Loaded Guns & Landmines

Landmines Found at SLC
Landmines Found at SLC
Yes, you read the title correctly. Landmines… TSA officers found in checked baggage at Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) after our Explosive Detection System alarmed. SLC Explosive Ordnance Disposal arrived on the scene and determined the mines were inert. After all was said and done, all checked bags from that area had to be rerouted to other baggage systems and four flights were delayed 19 minutes.

Unloaded firearms, firearm parts, ammunition, stun guns, brass knuckles, assorted knives of all sizes and types, a collapsible baton, fraudulent IDs, nunchucks, and yet another darn replica grenade were among items found around the nation by our officers in passenger’s carry-on bags this past week.

King Midas in Reverse traveled through Newport News Williamsburg International Airport this past Thursday with a brick of gold that had ‘$10,000,000.00’ stamped on it. The police responded and while the gold was fake, the warrant against the individual was 100% authentic. The real fugitive, and his fake gold, were taken into custody by law enforcement.

This past Wednesday, a Transportation Security Officer's search of a suspicious bag at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport's C-Pier checkpoint yielded five credit cards and an additional driver's license... all belonging to different people, none of which belonged to the passenger. TSA contacted the Maryland Transportation Authority Police, who took the individual into custody.

In another incident, a passenger at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was placed under arrest after he got a little tipsy and was heard saying he was going to bring a bomb onboard the aircraft.

It’s no secret that we find drugs and concealed cash nearly every day. We find them both during baggage checks and also during screening with advanced imaging technology (aka body scanners). We’re not looking for drugs and cash, but they show up as anomalies in the same exact places where explosives could be hidden. That’s why these finds are significant. It shows that our technology and procedures work.  Just this week at Westchester County Airport (HPN), a large mass was detected in a carry-on bag. After a bag search, a false bottom was located in the bag where over $50,000.00 of cash was bundled. Each bundle was wrapped in cellophane and a cloth that had been soaked in an unknown fragrant substance. The passenger’s ID was fraudulent and they were arrested by the Westchester County Police on state charges.

The TSA Week In Review appeared in a New York Times Editorial titled: Check-In at Dodge City. Also, a reader of the York Daily Record wrote a letter to the editor stating that they believe that “overall, the negative reviews of TSA are unwarranted.” Thanks for the kind words!

Dr. Emma Garrison-Alexander, TSA’s Chief Information Officer and Assistant Administrator for Information Technology, was recognized earlier this week with the United States Government Information Security Leadership Award (GISLA), presented by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, Inc., (ISC)². Great job!

Our officers found 22 loaded firearms since I posted last Friday in carry-on baggage. And 1 one on a passenger! (Not counting the unloaded and replica firearms we found). Here is a rundown of the loaded weapons we kept off of airplanes this week:
  • 10-14: TSA Officer at SAT detects a loaded .22 pistol with a round in the chamber.
  • 10-15: TSA Officer at CLL detects a loaded .45 pistol with a round in the chamber.
  • 10-15: TSA Officer at MCI detects a loaded .9mm pistol.
  • 10-15: TSA Officer at ATL detects a loaded .380 pistol with a round in the chamber.
  • 10-16: TSA Officer at CLT detects a loaded .38 pistol.
  • 10-16: TSA Officer at OKC detects a loaded  9mm pistol.
  •  10-16: TSA Officer at PHX detects a loaded .380 pistol with a round in the chamber. 
  • 10-17: TSA Officer at BNA detects a loaded .45 pistol. 
  • 10-17: TSA Officer at BUR detects a loaded .38 pistol. 
  • 10-17: TSA Officer at MCO detects a loaded 9mm pistol with a round in the chamber. 
  • 10-18: TSA Officer at BNA detects a loaded .380 pistol. 
  • 10-19: TSA Officer at LAW detects a loaded .357 pistol with a round in the chamber. 
  • 10-19: TSA Officer at PHX detects a loaded .380 pistol with a round in the chamber. 
  • 10-19: TSA Officer at PHX detects a loaded .38 pistol with a round in the chamber. 
  • 10-19: TSA Officer at FMN detects a loaded 9mm pistol.
  • 10-19: TSA Officer at LIT detects a loaded .380 pistol. 
  • 10-19: TSA Officer at SAV detects a loaded .380 pistol with a round in the chamber.
  • 10-20: TSA Officer at IAD detects a loaded .380 pistol with a round in the chamber. 
  • 10-20: TSA Officer at TUL detects a loaded .38 pistol. 
  • 10-20: TSA Officer at LIT detects a loaded .38 pistol.
  • 10-20: TSA Officer at ATL detects a loaded 9mm pistol. 
  • 10-20: TSA Officer at MEM detects a loaded .38 pistol with a round in the chamber. 
  • 10-20: One passenger at DFW took it to the extreme. In the passenger’s back pack, a duffle bag and a sleeping bag, a TSO found two unloaded pistols, (.380 & 9mm) 8 knives of varying blade lengths with seven inches being the longest blade, a saw, and three ammo magazines.   
  • 10-20: After alarming the walk through the metal detector at HSV, a passenger immediately remembered he had a loaded .22 Derringer in his pocket.  
Multiple Items Found At DFW From One Passenger
Multiple Items Found At DFW From One Passenger
You can travel with your firearms in checked baggage, but they must first be declared to the airline. You can go here for more details on how to properly travel with your firearms.

Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions, that's for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items in their bag. That’s why it’s important to check your bags before you leave.

We also look for explosives and bomb components as well, but thankfully those are extremely rare and we're happy to keep it that way.

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

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