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Transportation Security Administration

TSA Blog Year in Review: 2013

Friday, January 24, 2014
Some of the Loaded Firearms Discovered in Carry-on Baggage in 2013

Every day, Transportation Security Officers interact with nearly two million travelers across the United States with a single goal in mind – ensuring the safety of the traveling public.

TSA had a busy year in 2013, screening 638,705,790 passengers in 2013 (over 1,700,000 per day), which is  1,123,668 more passengers than last year.

Sadly, this year marked the first incident where a TSA officer, Gerardo I. Hernandez, was killed in the line of duty at Los Angeles International Airport.

In many ways, Transportation Security Officers are the public face of our nation’s security. It is difficult work, requiring patience, stamina, and great attention to detail. It requires extensive training and constant vigilance. This year’s tragic incident reminds us that being on the frontline also comes with a great risk. It is a risk that the men and women of TSA undertake willingly knowing that in doing so they are serving a higher cause, and a noble one – protecting the men and women of the United States every day.

We wanted to share with you examples of the continued vigilance of TSA officers in protecting our nation’s transportation systems, including some of the most unusual items TSA caught at the checkpoints this year.

1,813 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging nearly five firearms per day. Of those, 1,477 (81%) were loaded. Firearms were intercepted at a total of 205 airports with Atlanta (ATL) on top of the list for the most firearms intercepted (111) in 2013.

There was a 16.5% increase (257) in firearm discoveries from last year’s total of 1,556.

Top FiveLoaded Gun (BDL) Airports for Gun Catches in 2013

  1. (ATL) - 111 Guns Discovered
  2. (DFW) - 96 Guns Discovered
  3. (IAH) - 68 Guns Discovered
  4. (PHX) - 66 Guns Discovered
  5. (DEN) - 51 Guns Discovered

Loaded Gun (PIT)Here are a few of the more notable firearm incidents: 

A loaded .380 pistol with eight rounds was discovered on the lower left leg of a passenger at Bradley Hartford (BDL) after the weapon alarmed the Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT).

A loaded .45 caliber pistol with six rounds and one chambered was discovered strapped to the ankle of a Pittsburgh (PIT) passenger during a pat-down after he had opted out of AIT.

A .25 caliber firearm loaded with 10 rounds was discovered hidden under the lining of a carry-on bag at Cedar Rapids (CID).

A passenger at Salt Lake City (SLC) received a pat-down after an anomaly was detected during advanced imaging technology screening.

Loaded Gun (CID)During the pat-down, officers discovered a fully loaded .22 caliber firearm inside his boot.

Using imaging technology, a .380 pistol loaded with seven rounds and one chambered was discovered in the pocket of a passenger at Dallas Fort Worth (DFW).While resolving an alarm on checked baggage, officers at Boston Logan (BOS) discovered a fully disassembled 30-30 rifle concealed within the lining of the bag and taped to the straps. Police responded and ran a check on the serial number of the rifle, revealing that it had been stolen.

In what was believed to be an attempt to avoid declaring his firearms, a passenger at Houston (IAH) wrapped two guns in newspaper and placed them in a box of detergent powder in his checked baggage.

Seven undeclared firearms were found concealed in a checked toolbox at Miami (MIA).

A shotgun was discovered in a checked golf bag at Detroit (DTW).

An unloaded .45 caliber pistol and four magazines were hidden in a cassette deck in checked baggage.

Left to Right: Unassembled Rifle (BOS), Shotgun in Golf Bag (DTW), Seven Firearms in Toolbox (MIA), Guns In Detergent (IAH)

Left to Ri24 Pounds of Black Powder (MDW)ght: Unassembled Rifle (BOS), Shotgun in Golf Bag (DTW), Seven Firearms in Toolbox (MIA), Guns In Detergent (IAH)

In addition to firearms discovered this year, there were many unsafe items that passengers attempted to travel with this year including:

Ten canisters containing 24-pounds of black powder were discovered in checked baggage at Chicago Midway (MDW).

A live blasting cap was discovered along with an M60 fuse lighter in a passenger’s checked bag at the Manhattan Regional Airport (MHK) in Kansas.

Blasting Cap and Fuse Initiator (MHK)Over nine ounces of black powder was discovered in a carry-on bag at Cleveland (CLE).

A camping stove fuel bottle with fuel was discovered in a passenger’s carry-on bag at San Francisco (SFO).

After causing an alarm in checked baggage, Officers found a 3.2 ounce flask of black powder, 22 feet of fuse, a large empty CO2 cartridge, and miscellaneous ammunition in a passenger’s bag at Anchorage (ANC).

While resolving an alarm in a checked bag at Honolulu (HNL), a TSA officer discovered two one-pound cans of black powder.

Left - Right / Top - Bottom: Black Powder & Fuse (ANC), Two Pounds of Black Powder (HNL), Nine Ounces of Black Powder (CLE), and Camping Stove Fuel (SFO)

Left - Right / Top - Bottom: Black Powder & Fuse (ANC), Two Pounds of Black Powder (HNL), Nine Ounces of Black Powder (CLE), and Camping Stove Fuel (SFO)

TInert Suicide Vest (IND)SA officers also find inert items that look very real. The problem with these types of items is that we don’t know if they are real, toys or replicas until we call out the explosive experts. Inert items can lead to disruption, closed terminals and checkpoints, which often result in canceled or delayed flights. Here are some of the more interesting inert items we’ve found so far this year:

After alarming in checked baggage, our officers discovered The vest was a training aid used by an explosives instructor.

A passenger at Norfolk (ORF) had six inert pressure plates, 50 inert initiators, an inert land mine, inert explosives, and two initiation systems in the his bag.

An inert Claymore mine was discovered in a checked bag at San Jose (SJC). 

Inert IED (ORD)

Inert Claymore Mine (SJU)An inert bandolier line charge was discovered after it alarmed in checked baggage at Norfolk (ORF). Seven inert blasting caps were discovered in checked baggage at Greenbrier County Airport (LWB). Electricdetonators and a blockof inert C4 with duct tape and wires protruding were discovered in two separate incidents at Seattle (SEA) in checked baggage.

A gag retirement gift designed to look like an improvisedexplosive device was discovered on the X-ray at St. Petersburg / Clearwater (PIE). Two inert C4 demolition explosives were discovered in the carry-on bag of a passenger at Honolulu (HNL).An inert Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) training kit was discovered at Norfolk (ORF). 

Two battery-charged initiators were discovered in a carry-on bag at Minneapolis (MSP).

Inert Bazooka Round (ORD)

A WWIIera inert bazooka round was discovered in a checked bag at Chicago O’Hare (ORD).An inert 20mm artillery round was detected in the carry-on bag at San Diego (SAN).  

136 inert/novelty/replica grenades were discovered this year at TSA checkpointsand checked baggage locations.

Just A Few of the 136 Inert/Novelty/Replica Grenades Discovered in 2013

Left - Right / Top - Bottom: Battery Charged Initiator (MSP), IED Training Kit (ORD), Inert Blasting Caps (LWB), Inert C-4 (HNL), Gag Gift (TPA)

Left - Right / Top - Bottom: Battery Charged Initiator (MSP), IED Training Kit (ORD), Inert Blasting Caps (LWB), Inert C-4 (HNL), Gag Gift (TPA)

Smoke Grenade (IAD)Live Smoke, Stun, and Incendiary Devices:

A live smoke grenade was discovered under the lining of a carry-on bag at Washington Dulles (IAD). >A live flashbang grenade was discovered in a carry-on bag at Portland (PDX). >

A live smoke grenade was discovered in checked baggage at Washington Dulles (IAD).

Flash Bang Grenade (PDX)

A live “sting ball” riot control grenade was discovered in checked baggage at John Wayne (SNA). Live smoke and flare canisters were discovered in a checked bag at Phoenix (PHX).

Flare Gun (HOU)

A 3-ounce Can of CS Teargas was discovered in a carry-on bag at Atlantic City (ACY).A passenger at Houston Hobby (HOU)had a flare gun and six loose flares in his carry-on bag.  562 stun guns were discovered in carry-on bags in 2013.

Left - Right: Smoke and Flare Canisters (PHX), Flare Gun (MDW), Teargas (ACY), Flare (JNU), Smoke Grenades (PWM)

Left - Right: Smoke and Flare Canisters (PHX), Flare Gun (MDW), Teargas (ACY), Flare (JNU), Smoke Grenades (PWM)>Here are a few of the more notable knife incidents:

Non-metallic Dagger (SLC)

A non-metallic dagger was discovered on a passenger at Salt Lake City (SLC) after he alarmed Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT). During the pat-down, the dagger was found hanging by fishing line around his neck and under his shirt.  

Tactical Spike (DSM)

Officers at Des Moines (DSM) discovered an 8-inch non-metallic tactical spike in a passenger’s sock after he alarmed Advanced Imaging Technology.

Knife (BUR)

A knife was discovered concealed in the lower back area of a passenger who alarmed the advanced imaging technology at Burbank (BUR). 

Some Of The Throwing Knives and Stars Discovered in 2013

Some of The Knives and Swords Discovered in 2013

The year also provided the need for travelers to surrender a few odd items:

Human Skull (FLL)While searching clay pots in a checked baggage location at Fort Lauderdale (FLL), our officers discovered human skull fragments! While the fragments weren’t a security threat, they did slow screening down a bit since the area quickly became a crime scene!

A mace was discovered in a carry-on bag at Chicago Midway (MDW). This wasn’t a plastic mace; it was solid wood and metal.

A traveler’s checked bag blew open with threefoot high flames and smoke at Atlantic City (ACY) . The cause? A large leaking can of hairspray was ignited by the spark of a lighter when the bag was loaded onto the rollers. No one was injured.

Mace (ACY)

Mace (ACY)There were many instances last year where travelers attempted to hide items, or the items they packed were disguised to look like other items. Our officers regularly find sword canes, credit card knives, belt buckle knives, comb/brush knives, knives hidden in shoes, knives hidden in thermoses, and knives hidden under the bag lining near the handle mechanism. But, here are a few of the instances that stood out:

Pen Knife (DFW)

A knife concealed within an ink pen was discovered at Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW). 

A multi-tool was discovered inside a computer hard drive at Birmingham (BHM).

Pen Knife (DFW)

A knife was sewn into the lining of a bag at Dulles (IAD).

A bladed multi-tool was found in a package of socks at Albuquerque (ABQ).

Ammunition Hidden Under Pull Handle (ORF)

Nine rounds of .45 caliber ammunition were found in the pull-handle of a carry-bag at Norfolk (ORF).Pepper spray designed to look like a lipstick case was discovered in Phoenix (PHX). A stun gun concealed in a cane was discovered at Los Angeles (LAX).

Pepper Spray Lipstick (PHX)

A knife was found in a toothbrush holder at Lihue (LIH).A knife was discovered in the battery compartment of a laptop computer at Oakland (OAK).A knife was discovered inside a pillow at Midland (MAF).

Knife In Knee Brace (IAH)A lipstick knife was discovered at San Antonio (SAT).  A knife was discovered inside a passenger’s knee brace at Houston (IAH).Two kitchen knives were discovered in an automotive air filter box wrapped in plastic with the air filter at Houston Intercontinental (IAH).An 8-inch knife and a 6-inch knife were detected wrapped in plastic bags under a false bottom in a carry-on bag at Guam (GUM).A stun gun disguised to look like lipstick was discovered at St. Louis (STL).

Some Of The Cane Swords Discovered In 2013

Left to Right / Top to Bottom: Cigarette Pack Stun Gun (MCO), Brush Dagger(OGG), Knives Concealed in Air Filter (IAH), Credit Card Knife (ABQ), Lipstick Knife (SAT), Comb Knife (DTW), Knife in Shoe (IAD), Belt Buckle Knife (EWR), Stun Gun Cell Phone (JAN), Comb Knife (CHS), Lip Stick Stun Gun (LAS), Key Knife (IAD), Razor Concealed in Cell Phone (TPA), Credit Card Knife (BWI), Lipstick Stun Gun (STL), Stun Gun Cell Phone (LAX), Knife in Shoe (SAN), Cell Phone Stun Gun (DEN)

Left to Right / Top to Bottom: Cigarette Pack Stun Gun (MCO), Brush Dagger(OGG), Knives Concealed in Air Filter (IAH), Credit Card Knife (ABQ), Lipstick Knife (SAT), Comb Knife (DTW), Knife in Shoe (IAD), Belt Buckle Knife (EWR), Stun Gun Cell Phone (JAN), Comb Knife (CHS), Lip Stick Stun Gun (LAS), Key Knife (IAD), Razor Concealed in Cell Phone (TPA), Credit Card Knife (BWI), Lipstick Stun Gun (STL), Stun Gun Cell Phone (LAX), Knife in Shoe (SAN), Cell Phone Stun Gun (DEN).

Miscellaneous Items - Left to Right / Top to Bottom: Compound Bow in Carry-on (PHX), Finger Spikes (BHM), Bang Stick (KOA), BB Machine Gun (EWR), Novelty Bomb (PHX), Stun Knuckles (DEN), Gun Clock (SEA)

Miscellaneous Items - Left to Right / Top to Bottom: Compound Bow in Carry-on (PHX), Finger Spikes (BHM), Bang Stick (KOA), BB Machine Gun (EWR), Novelty Bomb (PHX), Stun Knuckles (DEN), Gun Clock (SEA).

You can also read more about important steps TSA has taken to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to security, and towards a more risk-based security posture in our year-end blog post, TSA Reflects on 2013.

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Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team

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Comments

Submitted by RB on

Anonymous said...

I would just like to point out, that no airport I have gone through in the past 2 years are using the body scanners that are viewed in a seperate room. ........

February 1, 2014 at 2:52 PM

......................................

You apparently haven't flown in the last two years then or only used airports that had MMW Strip Search Machines in time. It was just last year when TSA announced that the Backscatter Whole Body Strip Search machines were being removed because ATR was not available for these devices.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/29/travel/tsa-backscatter

TSA removes body scanners criticized as too revealing

By Mike M. Ahlers, CNN
updated 8:38 AM EDT, Thu May 30, 2013

But Congress voted to require all body scanners to have privacy-protecting software, and the TSA announced in February it was phasing out backscatter systems because they could not meet the new standard.

Submitted by JB Of Balto on

Just want to say thank you TSA for your continued efforts to keep air travel safe.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Do you have any better ideas and or technology and or trust in humanity? I didn't think so. Shame on you.

Submitted by Anonymous on

If they miss one will you be one of the folks suing the government for not having security? I get it. It's a hassle, it sucks. But I got off a plane in Germany in 1977. First thing I noticed was the cops with the dogs and the uzis. Everybody is being more careful about security...we've just been spoiled.

Submitted by Anonymous on

My apologies. I just ran across this, and I have to admit I thought no one would be stupid enough to take things like this through. I thought you were sleeping behind the screens.

You should post these pictures and lists so people can read them in the lines - I imagine others are like me and need some education.

My hat is back off for you guys.

Mike

Submitted by Anonymous on

So, how many terrorists has the TSA caught? How many citations were issued for bringing all this contraband on planes?

Submitted by Anonymous on

What about protecting not only the air traveling public, but TSA Agents from long term low dose exposure to X_RAY of ALL types being used in Airports? Occupational Radiodermatitis issomething every TSA Agent should be concerned about in addition to Cancer Clusters among TSA Agents at various U.S. Airports. What is being done by the U.S. Government to Protect those who are Protecting others?

Submitted by Anonymous on

We need to find something diffrent for sure though. Last year 400 TSA agents were arrested for stealing passangers items. Also, no "terrorism" has been found through TSA.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I was denied tsa clearance for my hazmat endorsement because my birth certificate reads jean as my first name and my drivers license reads john. I subsequently am losing my job, as a hazmat endorsement is a condition of employment. I am 61 years old, and have held a hazmat endorsement for 12 years. I have been known to one and all as john my entire life. I am not a French mole. the tsa is totally out of control. believe me its not just about pat downs

Submitted by Anonymous on

Perhaps instead of focusing on what TSA is doing, let's focus on the fact that so many people tried bringing these weapons on an airplane. I don't know if its ignorance or stupidity, but thats the real problem here.

If you don't like being searched for YOUR safety, don't fly. Plain and simple.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I'm honestly terrified of getting to the airport now.

No offense TSA, but I want to keep my umbrella, no matter how much it looks like a sheathed sword to you.

Submitted by Linda Pelletier on

These clowns lost any shred of respect I had for them when they searched my cat. I was hoping she would claw the crap out of them. She didn't. :(

The people who defend them here clearly don't fly much. The TSA is a useless tax drain. A determined terrorist could kill someone with a pencil.

Submitted by Anonymous on

It's NOT safe and you should have refused, complained , demand a supervisor, and go get ur son checked.

Submitted by Navaid Syed on

So, the people who saying "Don't fly, if you have problems with TSA". What about, if you have problems with FDA? Stop eating? Problems with HUD? Stop living in home? Problems with Department of education? Don't get education? Problems with IRS? Stop working? Problems with Federal Reserve? Stop using banks? Problems with DMV? Do not drive a car?
The matter of the fact is that government is intruding in virtually every aspect of life. Are these compatible with the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, our constitution is all about? Did our founders fight revolutionary war for a four trillion dollar federal government (state and local governments not included) or freedom of individual sovereigns? If it was for an ever growing tax monster than exactly what is the difference between the British king or queen and monarchs in Washington? What has been the reason for all those incredible sacrifices that freedom living people have made for over two hundred years?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Oh my gosh thank you! That's exactly what I was thinking. Way to go you stole my property. The pepper spray lipstick to protect me when I go to a city or country I don't know. It's simply appalling.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Oh didn't you know?! Suntan lotion containers aren't filled with suntan lotion. It's filled with liquid c4 that will be used to take down the plane. ��

Submitted by Anonymous on

I feel that the reason the TSA doesn't catch terrorists is because terrorists are stupid enough to try to take heavy weapons on an airplane when metal detection will find it in a heartbeat.
I know TSA is more intrusive than it needs to be, but it was founded with good intent and I feel that it has held true to that intent since day 1.
It has prevented any 9/11-like incidents over the past 14 years, which I think makes the organization a success anyways.
Everyone is allowed to have their opinions, but remember to look at it from all sides.
Yes, they may occasionally take your stuff (they took my swiss army money clip. Forgot to switch it for my normal one), but seriously guys, don't try to bring your 8-inch knife with you on an airplane. That's just plain stupidity.
Just my two cents.
Keep doing what you guy are doing TSA.
~Brendan

Submitted by Joshua Cogswell on

It would depend on the situation. If the plane is diverted, & they make you re-check your bags, this strategy probably would not work. Any bags left on the carousel would likely be viewed as "suspicious" & subject to removal to a secure area, for examination, if you're lucky. If you're not so lucky, they might destroy it, and if you're really unlucky, they'll detain you for questioning, or worse.

If you ever find yourself in such a situation, your best option is to inform the crew, & ask them to contact airport security, and have airport security collect your bags & escort you to either the check-in station, or a cab so you can get to your hotel. If you find yourself unwillingly stuck in NY overnight, you may also want to have the airline explain the situation to local law enforcement, so that: 1. There's more witnesses involved, & 2. There's less chance for any "misunderstandings" on the law enforcement end.

Technically, in such a situation, you are protected by the Firearms Owners Protection Act, but unfortunately, as we all know, as a firearms owner, even when you're right, you have to prove you're right, as well as innocence, which can be quite costly in the wrong situation.

Submitted by Johny on

It's NOT safe and you should have refused, complained , demand a supervisor, and go get ur son checked.

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