Sunport TSA officers discover gun part in carry-on luggage
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — We’re learning more after TSA officers at the Albuquerque International Sunport made a strange discovery during a security screening.
TSA officers had to crack through a lead and plaster case to uncover a piece of a gun. It’s something the agency says was “artfully concealed” by the passenger.
“The first line of defense are our officers who actually screen every bag that goes through,” New Mexico TSA spokesperson Patricia Mancha said.
Mancha says three officers stopped a passenger from bringing a banned item on a flight that was strangely wrapped.
“Back in October, we had a traveler who actually, we call it artfully, concealed a gun component. And what happened was, this component for a weapon was actually packed in plaster, it had duct tape, it had clothes around it,” Mancha said.
It was wrapped in a plaster coating, duct tape, socks and placed in a lead-lined cardboard box.
“The officer noticed something odd about this particular item, and immediately called the lead supervisor. The lead person came in, and they too noticed something strange, they called the next person in the chain of command,” Mancha continued. “And so, in this particular incident, the system worked.”
Officers asked the passenger what was inside the strange box.
“They said, ‘Oh, it’s just film and it’s probably no good. So, you can throw it out.’ But our officers noticed that no, no, something’s not right,” Mancha said. “At that point, you know, most people don’t say just throw it out, especially something that is wrapped large, all those things. So, at that point, they knew something wasn’t right.”
When they finally got through all of those layers, they found an AR style upper receiver, which is part of a gun.
“Guns, gun components and ammunition are not allowed in your carry-on luggage, because if you have various components, and maybe you can assemble a gun, you know, someone else has another component. We really don’t understand what this traveler was trying to do,” Mancha said.
Mancha told KOB 4, more passengers are bringing guns to the Sunport. So far this year, TSA Officers have already found 11.
Mancha says that’s alarming because we haven’t gotten through January yet. Last year, officers found 33 guns in total.
People can travel with guns, but they must be unloaded, packed in a hard sided container with a lock, and it must be declared with the airline. If you don’t follow those rules, you could face up to a $15,000 fine or even be criminally charged.
Mancha says if you’re unsure if you can or can’t bring an item to the airport, reach out to TSA via its AskTSA function. You can tweet, send a text message or reach out via Facebook Messenger with any questions.