Delta Employee Arrested After Allegedly Helping To Smuggle Guns On Flight

Perhaps the Transportation Security Administration’s recent reminder that guns aren’t permitted in carry-on bags should have explicitly stated that this rule also applies to airline workers. But we doubt that would have stopped a Delta baggage handler from allegedly smuggling more than 100 guns onto flights with the help of a former co-worker.

The Associated Press reports that a Delta baggage handler was arrested on federal charges of trafficking firearms, violating airport security and aiding others in a scheme to smuggle the guns past security at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

According to a Federal Bureau of Investigation affidavit, authorities say the employee’s part in the plot was revealed after a former Delta employee, who was fired in 2010, was arrested in New York on December 10 in a weapons trafficking investigation after an undercover agent bought a gun from one of his accomplices.

That investigation targeted firearms being sold in New York that had been purchased in the Atlanta area, the AP reports.

The man, who was arrested while in possession of a backpack with 18 guns and ammunition, allegedly told investigators that he traveled from Atlanta to New York with the weapons and ammunition in his carry-on bag.

Guns are only allowed to be flown in checked baggage and must be declared to authorities.

After the arrest, investigators looked at the former employee’s cellphone records, airport surveillance video and security records and ascertained that he conspired with a current baggage handler in Atlanta to get the guns past security.

Cellphone records showed that the two men had communicated via text message 12 times shortly before the former employee’s flight took off from Atlanta on December 10.

When authorities reviewed surveillance video and security records from the Atlanta airport they found that the current Delta employee was assigned to the baggage transfer room during the time of the Atlanta to New York flight.

Records show that the man used his employee access card to enter the secure area just before 7 a.m. on the day of the flight. Video then shows the man carrying a backpack and walking toward a gate in the B concourse around the same time the text messages between the men began.

The employee then entered a men’s restroom where the two men met. Upon leaving the restroom, the former employee was seen carrying the backpack brought into the room by the current employee.

The two men have been accused by federal authorities of conspiring to smuggle guns through the airport several times between May and December of this year. In all, investigators believe the man arrested in New York was able to smuggle 129 handguns and assault rifles through the airport.

A spokesperson for Delta tells the AP that the airline is cooperating with authorities.

“We take seriously any activity that fails to uphold our strict commitment to the safety and security of our customers and employees,” the airline spokesman says.

Airline worker arrested in gun-smuggling plot [The Associated Press]

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