After screening 637,582,122 passengers in 2012 (around 1,746,800 a day), here are some of the more dangerous, scary, and downright unusual items our officers found in 2012. This post is a reflection of the outstanding work our officers are doing in the field thanks to their vigilance and attention to detail.
1,556* (*Updated 7/3/13) firearms have been discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country. That’s a little over fourfirearms per day! Of those, 1,215 (78.7%) were loaded. Firearms have been found at a total of 199 airports with Atlanta (ATL) on top of the list - 95 in 2012.
Here are a few of the more notable firearm incidents:
- A Portland (PDX) passenger put a pistol in potted plant, presumably in an effort to sneak it past us.
- A passenger at Providence TF Green Airport (PVD) had a disassembled gun and ammunition concealed in three stuffed animals.
- A pen pistol was discovered at Allentown (ABE). A 22 caliber magazine was discovered wrapped in aluminum foil inside a DVD player at Fresno (FAT).A BB gun in a book was discovered at Fargo (FAR).
- A gun in a hollowed out book was discovered at Honolulu (HNL).
While the number of firearms discovered this year might shock you, here are some explosively dangerous items that passengers attempted to travel with this year:
- A live 40mm high explosive grenade was discovered at Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW).
- A bottle wrapped in black electrical tape and filled with flash powder, and three M-80 fireworks was discovered at Philadelphia (PHL).
- A black powder flask filled with 5oz. of black powder was discovered at Syracuse (SYR). An explosively-viable cannonball was discovered in checked baggage at Ft Lauderdale (FLL).
- A live blasting cap was discovered in a passenger’s carry-on bag at Redmond (RDM). Seal Bombs were discovered in a carry-on bag at Seattle (SEA).
- Gunpowder was discovered in a checked bag at Boston (BOS).
- 22 black powder pellets were discovered in checked baggage at Salt Lake City (SLC).
- Officers discovered a 16oz. can of black powder in checked baggage at Anchorage (ANC).
- Six lbs. of black powder, detonation cords, and timing fuse were discovered at Grand Junction (GJT).
- 15 tubes of black powder were discovered in checked baggage at Denver (DEN).
- A powder horn with approximately three ounces of black powder was discovered in a carry-on bag at Little Rock (LIT).
- A live flash bang grenade was discovered in checked baggage at Northwest Florida Regional Airport (VPS). Along with the grenade were 20 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition.
In addition to the live explosives items mentioned above, we also find a lot of inert items that look like the real deal. The problem with these types of items is that we don’t know if they are the real deal until we call out the bomb experts, and sometimes even they have a hard time figuring it out. Inert items can lead to closed terminals and checkpoints, which usually result in canceled or delayed flights. Here are some of the more interesting inert items we’ve found so far this year:
- An inert IED with a block of simulated SEMTEX-H, and a simulated blasting cap were discovered in checked baggage at Columbus (CSG).
- An inert detonator was discovered in a passenger’s pocket during a pat-down search after a Charleston (CHS) passenger alarmed the body scanner.
- A strange watch resembling an IED component was discovered at Oakland (OAK).
- An expended AT-4 rocket launcher was discovered in checked baggage at Latrobe (LBE).
- A grenade launcher was discovered in checked baggage at Seattle Tacoma (SEA).
- An M147 firing device with blasting cap taped to it was discovered in checked baggage at Reno (RNO).
- Several replica Claymore antipersonnel mines were discovered at Newark (EWR), Guam (GUM), and Tulsa (TUL).
- More inert grenades than you would ever imagine. Seven were discovered in just one week last December.
- Several inert warheads were discovered this year at Salt Lake City (SLC), Providence (PVD), NYL (Yuma) and Richmond (RIC).
- Inert mortar and bazooka rounds were discovered at ElPaso (ELP), Dallas/ Fort Worth (DFW), and Tucson (TUS).
- Inert explosive components were discovered in a golf club case in checked baggage at Austin (AUS).
- Simulated Semtex-H was discovered in a carry-on bag at Fort Walton Beach (VPS).
- A passenger at Norfolk (ORF) had simulated detonating cord, simulated sheet explosives, and two 3.5 ounce cans of propane in his checked bag.
And of course, there are those items that fit into the odd/interesting category. A few examples would be bear mace in a sock, a spear gun, dead venomous snakes, a chastity belt, more cane swords than you could shake a cane sword at, a shocking amount of stun guns, a gassed up chainsaw, an 8oz. bottle of vodka discovered in a passenger's pants, a knife mounted on a walker, eels, prohibited bling, a marijuana filled grenade, another speargun, samurai swords, a stun cane, and jingle bell shotgun shells.
While this doesn’t fall into any of the categories above, it deserves to be mentioned that last August, two Behavior Detection Officers (BDO) at Miami (MIA) thwarted a kidnapping. Read more about it here.
You can check out our archives of TSA Week in Review posts to see pictures and read about many other instances where dangerous, scar, and odd items are found. Our Week in Review posts are published every Friday evening.
TSA Blog Team
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