A passenger found himself in a sticky situation after TSA officers found 13 bullets concealed in a chewing gum container at New York’s LaGuardia Airport.
Officer Chennae Rodrigo Butler was on X-ray when a duffel bag with two large Mentos gum packs came through her conveyor belt. One of the containers was filled with chewing gum, but the other had several rounds of ammunition. Rodrigo Butler immediately called for a bag search.
“When I first noticed the ammunition, I thought it was a [test image],” said Rodrigo Butler. “I realized the bag [contained a possible prohibited item] when the Automated Screening Lane (ASL) pulled the bag into the high threat cage.”
Supervisory Officer Paola Chavez conducted the bag search and found the hidden ammo.
“The passenger’s duffel bag was mostly filled with clothes,” Chavez explained. “Referencing the [X-ray] image, I expected to find loose ammunition in the side pocket. At first, the ammunition could not be located, so I dumped out all the contents of the side pocket. That’s when I found two containers of gum. I decided to open them. The first container had gum; the second had the 13 rounds of ammunition.”
Police were then called to the checkpoint. They interviewed the passenger, who said, “It’s my son’s bag; I didn’t touch the outside pockets.” Police confiscated the bullets and cited the man on a local charge of unlawful possession of ammunition.
“In my personal experience, there are usually just a few rounds or a single replica in the passenger’s bag,” said Rodrigo Butler, who has discovered ammunition in carry-on bags before although was a bit surprised to find these bullets concealed in a Mentos case.
Chavez congratulated Butler on the great catch.
“Not everything you see is as it seems,” Chavez said. “Individuals are always attempting to find new ways of
Federal Security Director Robert Duffy gave kudos to both Rodrigo Butler and Chavez.
“That was an excellent catch by the officers involved,” said Duffy. “We are proud of them for their attention to detail and teamwork.”
Rodrigo Butler noted, “It’s a big reminder there is still a very realistic threat to this country’s transportation system. I’m thankful to have been able to make the catch.”