Every day, transportation security officers interact with nearly two million travelers across the United States with a single goal in mind – ensuring the safety and security of the traveling public.
We want 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 discovered at checkpoints.
TSA had a busy year in 2014, screening more than 653 million passengers in 2014 (about 1.8 million per day), which is 14.8 million more passengers than last year.
2,212 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging more than sixfirearms per day. Of those, 1,835 (83 percent) were loaded. Firearms were intercepted at a total of 224 airports; 19 more airports than last year.
There was a 22 percent increase in firearm discoveries from last year’s total of 1,813.
These are just some of the 2,212 firearms discovered in carry-on bags in 2014.
Top 10 Airports for Gun Catches in 2014
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW): 120
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL): 109
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX): 78
- George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH): 77
- Denver International Airport (DEN): 70
- William P. Hobby Airport (HOU): 50
- Tampa International Airport (TPA): 49
- Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL): 49
- Nashville International Airport (BNA): 48
- Orlando International Airport (MCO): 47
Here are a few of the more notable firearm incidents:
A record number of firearms discovered in one day was set on June 4, 2014, when 18 firearms were discovered around the country in carry-on bags. That broke the previous record of 13 set in 2013.
A disassembled .22 caliber firearm was discovered in a carry-on bag at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). Various components of the gun were found hidden inside a PlayStation 2 console.
An assault rifle with three loaded magazines was discovered at the Dallas Love Field (DAL) checkpoint.
A loaded folding-stock rifle with two loaded magazines was discovered in a carry-on bag at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW).
A 94-year-old man attempted to enter the checkpoint at LaGuardia Airport (LGA) with a loaded .38 caliber revolver clipped to his belt.
A loaded 380. caliber firearm was discovered strapped to a passenger’s ankle after walking through a metal detector at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG).
A loaded 380. caliber firearm was discovered in the rear pocket of a San Antonio International Airport (SAT) passenger during advanced imaging technology screening.
In addition to firearms discovered this year, there were many unsafe items that passengers attempted to travel with this year including:
An Mk 2 hand grenade was discovered in a carry-on bag at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The Terminal 1 checkpoint was closed while the explosive ordnance disposal team transported the grenade to an offsite location to be disrupted. Five flights were delayed more than two hours, affecting 800 passengers.
A homemade avalanche control charge was discovered in a carry-on bag at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC). FBI responded and arrested the passenger.
A traveler at Gerald R. Ford International Airport-Grand Rapids (GRR) had a tube in his carry-on bag containing 500 grains of black powder.
Other dangerous items discovered last year include: a fireworks making kit, fireworks, black powder pellets,liveflash bang grenades, propane, a flare gun,seal deterrent, M-1000 fireworks, over 700 stun guns and livesmokegrenades.
From the left: stun grenade (EVV), stun grenade (MEM), flare gun (AMA) and smoke grenade (SEA).
Officers also find inert items that appear very realistic. The problem with these types of items is that we don’t know if they are real, toys or replicas until TSA explosives experts are called upon. 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 found last year:
Six blocks of inert C-4 were discovered in a checked bag at Tampa (TPA).
A novelty alarm clock resembling an explosive device was discovered in a carry-on bag at Kansas City (MCI).
An improvised explosives device (IED) training kit was discovered in a checked bag at Honolulu (HNL).
A military training kit containing inert blasting caps, inert detonators, inert detonating cord and inert C-4 were discovered in a checked bag at Honolulu International Airport (HNL). The baggage room was evacuated causing a delay in screening.
Over 140 inert/novelty hand grenades were discovered last year in both checked and carry-on bags.
A realistic replica of a Claymore anti-personnel mine was discovered in a traveler’s checked bag at San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
An explosives training kit was discovered in a traveler’s checked bag at Northwest Florida Regional Airport (VPS).
Other inert items were discovered last year including: inert artilleryshells, an M18A1 mine kit, an inert military explosives training kit, 40mm grenade launcher practice rounds, an inert training warhead, and a WWII blasting machine.
From the left, items discovered at: CVG, SEA, SAN, and ATL.
There were many instances last year when travelers attempted to hide items, or the items they packed were disguised to look like other items. TSA 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. Here are a few instances that stood out:
An anomaly was detected with advanced imaging technology in the center chest area of a Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) passenger. After a pat-down, a pen and highlighter combo was discovered to be concealing small knives.
An 8.5” knife was discovered in an enchilada at the Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport (STS).
Razorblades were discovered concealed in a greeting card at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (PHF).
A multi-tool/knife was detected concealed inside the water chamber of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine at San Antonio International Airport (SAT).
When officers at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) opened a checked bag for a routine inspection, they discovered many household items, like baby wipes, coffee, lemonade mix and a box of cat litter. After a closer look, they found two disassembled .40 caliber handguns, 350 rounds of ammunition, and 58 bricks of marijuana (33 pounds) concealed in the products. The traveler was arrested on state charges by the Port Authority Police Department.
A three-inch knife was found concealed inside of a laptop’s hard drive caddy at Dayton International Airport (DAY).
Many other concealed items were discovered last year including: a stun cane, a razorblade in a cell phone, a saw blade in a bible, a cell phone knife case, a lipstick stun gun, a knife concealed in a tube of toothpaste, a knife under the sole of a shoe, pen knives, a pocket knife in a potato chip bag, knife keys, a knife in a neck pillow, a lipstick knife, two rounds of .22 caliber ammo sewn into a shirt cuff, a machete concealed under the lining of bag, and a round of .22 caliber ammo in a tube of medical cream.
Clockwise from top left, items discovered at: BIL, BGM, MIA, DTW, LAX & BOS.
These are examples of some of the more common artfully concealed items our officers find.
While TSA works to keep dangerous items off of commercial aircraft, when contraband is found, it must be reported to local law enforcement. Here are a few of the more notable narcotics discoveries:
80 pounds of marijuana was discovered in a checked bag at the McClellan-Palomar Airport (CLD) in California.
81 Pounds of Marijuana was discovered in checked baggage at the Oakland International Airport (OAK).
92 pounds of marijuana was discovered in a checked bag at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX).
A San Jose International Airport (SJC) passenger was arrested after nearly three pounds of cocaine was discovered in his checked baggage wrapped inside a package of raw meat.
A plastic bag containing 67 pills hidden inside of a hollowed out textbook was discovered in checked baggage at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL).
18 bags of heroin were discovered on the leg of an Atlantic City International Airport (ACY) passenger during advanced imaging technology screening.
The year also provided the need for travelers to surrender a few odd items:
An unloaded cannon barrel was discovered with a passenger’s checked items at the Kahului Airport (OGG).
Many other odd items were discovered last year. Here are a few of the standouts: octagonal sais, a batarang, another batarang, threespearguns, a bang stick, a whip, a fly grenade, a burning book, a mallet, shukos, giant scissors, bear mace, a grenade-shaped vaping device, a gun knife, a novelty bomb, an inert firework display and a knuckle stunner.
Clockwise from top left, items discovered at: MDW, BUF, DEN, PHX, EWR, MKE, BTV and SLC.
A selection of throwing knives and stars our officers discovered in 2014.
Some of the knives and swords our officers discovered in 2014.
2014 was also a great year for TSA Pre✓®! Be sure to read our blog post reflecting on risk-based security last year.
Thanks for reading this year’s run down of the more notable items TSA officers discovered in 2014. Keep in mind that far more was discovered than those listed in this report. When bag searches are needed, the line slows down. If you haven’t read them yet, make sure you check out our year in review posts for 2011, 2012 & 2013.
TSA Blog Team
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