God Bless the TSA

montanapilot

Well-Known Member
Woman Passes N.Y. Airport Security With Stun Gun, Knife

Sunday, January 25, 2004

DENVER — A woman passed through security screening at New York's LaGuardia Airport with a stun gun and knife in her purse -- but later discovered the mistake herself and alerted authorities.

The woman realized she was carrying the items Saturday after a short layover in Detroit and on her way to Denver.

"She immediately went, 'Oh, my God, I'm not supposed to have these here,' and called the flight attendant over," said Spirit Airlines spokeswoman Laura Bennett.

The pilot alerted Denver International Airport; police met the plane at the gate and took the woman into custody for questioning. She was released without charges.

"She did the right thing by giving up the items voluntarily, and she was never malicious," Bennett said. "We never considered her a threat."

Transportation Security Administration officials had no comment on the security slip. TSA official Darrin Kayser said the agency would investigate.

"It was an honest but odd mistake," Bennett said. "But it's true that people often don't think about what's in their luggage."
 

Minuteman

“Dongola”
Whoa! I think that's the first time I've heard of someone make a mistake like this and not be arrested, even when they voluntarily admit to the error.
 

Nick

Well-Known Member
I cleared security with a knife last month and didn't even realize it. They wanted to take my nailclippers...but didn't see the knife in the other pocket of my bag. What a worthless operation they are.

Nick
 

donttouchanything

New Member
I've carried a pocket knife since I was maybe 8 or 9 years old and have come close to having to cough it up to TSA a few times. Now my wife does a weapons check before we leave for the airport. I'd hate to have my favorite knife confiscated and then sold off at public auction.
 

Mr_Creepy

Well-Known Member
I've inadvertently gone through security with my leatherman and pocket knife many times. TSA has yet to catch it.

Ironically, Argenbright DID catch it in MCO back in early 2002 in the pre-TSA days, but the National Guardsmen overrode them and let me through.

I've moved them to another bag because I don't want them confiscated.
 

johnbail

New Member
I use to travle allot and the last 3 times I went to Mimia I was not even searched when I set off the medel detector. the person who had to do the secound screening was alwas woried about break,Gossip and the last time who go free peanuts.
 

donttouchanything

New Member
[ QUOTE ]
I use to travle allot and the last 3 times I went to Mimia I was not even searched when I set off the medel detector. the person who had to do the secound screening was alwas woried about break,Gossip and the last time who go free peanuts.


[/ QUOTE ]

Lets see that again, with spell check.

I use to travel a lot and the last 3 times I went to Miami I was not even searched when I set off the metal detector. The person who had to do the second screening was always worried about break, gossip and the last time, who got free peanuts.


I couldn't resist
 

Tim06

New Member
I forgot that I had a pocket knife on me, boarding a flight in NZ...didn't find out until I got to LAX, when I had to go through security to board my JFK bound flight!
 

johnbail

New Member
[ QUOTE ]
[ QUOTE ]
I use to travle allot and the last 3 times I went to Mimia I was not even searched when I set off the medel detector. the person who had to do the secound screening was alwas woried about break,Gossip and the last time who go free peanuts.


[/ QUOTE ]

Lets see that again, with spell check.

I use to travel a lot and the last 3 times I went to Miami I was not even searched when I set off the metal detector. The person who had to do the second screening was always worried about break, gossip and the last time, who got free peanuts.


I couldn't resist


[/ QUOTE ]

Thomas Jeferson once said "It is a weak mind that can olny think of one way to spell a word"
 

johnbail

New Member
[ QUOTE ]
"The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think."
Edwin Schlossberg

[/ QUOTE ]

Well never let be said that my spelling dose not geting folks thinking
 

Cherokee_Cruiser

Well-Known Member
While the TSA did not catch the knife, nor the stun gun, they did stop the woman from carrying potentially lethal weapons: her tweezers and nailclippers...
 

mpenguin1

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
I've carried a pocket knife since I was maybe 8 or 9 years old and have come close to having to cough it up to TSA a few times. Now my wife does a weapons check before we leave for the airport. I'd hate to have my favorite knife confiscated and then sold off at public auction.

[/ QUOTE ]

Oh c'mon, I wouldn't mind buying YOUR pocket knife at a public auction for a couple of dollars. My highest bid would be $5.
 

tonyw

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
Oh c'mon, I wouldn't mind YOUR pocket knife at a public auction for a couple of dollars.

[/ QUOTE ]

I swear, one of these days I will get around to buying a bulk quantity of these pocket knives and selling them off on ebay. The good ones will probably net me a profit and the crappy ones I'll just donate to the Salvation Army and take a tax write off.
 

davetheflyer

New Member
I stopped carrying pocket knives after having one confiscated. I also lost an allen-wrench that came with my bag to change the wheels (after carrying it for six months).

I was laughing sadly at TSA just the other day when the pulled my bag and a Delta FA's out to search. While waiting, I was watching a screaming little boy, about 5 years old, get wanded.

On the other hand, you can't fault them for checking out kids. I found this article just a couple of days ago:


http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-adna-babies25jan25,0,5124742.story?coll=la-headlines-nation


Drug Ring 'Rented' Babies as Decoys



By Sharon Cohen, Associated Press Writer


CHICAGO — He knocked on the door of the squalid basement apartment, looking for a young couple. Their baby girl had been stopped at an airport thousands of miles away, and it wasn't her first suspicious trip.

The 8-month-old had already traveled to Panama and London five times, usually in the arms of strangers and often exposed to danger. The latest trip had ended abruptly with an arrest — at London's Heathrow Airport.







"Your baby was with a woman who was caught with drugs," U.S. Customs Agent Pete Darling told the parents coolly, careful not to reveal all that he knew. "Can you folks tell me what's going on?"

Calmly — too calmly, he thought — the couple claimed that their child had been taken from a baby-sitter's house and that they had filed a kidnapping report.

Darling noticed that the parents looked ill and that their apartment was a mess: dirty dishes in the sink, cardboard boxes on the floor, the smell of marijuana in the air. He knew that something was terribly wrong.

What Darling didn't know was he had begun to unravel an international drug-smuggling ring — a multimillion-dollar business that stretched from flea-bag hotels in Panama to the gritty streets of the Bronx to the industrial heart of England.

And it ran through one of the poorest pockets of Chicago, the drug-ridden, decaying neighborhood where Darling now stood — the place that the smugglers turned to for a precious commodity:

Babies.


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As he prowled the terminal at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Mike McDaniel was already suspicious.

It was a few days after Darling's interview and McDaniel, a roving Customs inspector, was looking for Chicago-tagged luggage on the carousel.

For weeks, he had been encountering women, sometimes with babies, passing through en route to Chicago, who claimed that they had visited husbands or boyfriends in the military in Panama.

Their stories didn't wash. The hotels they named were nowhere near military bases — and in rough neighborhoods that didn't cater to Americans.

McDaniel happened to know that because he had served five years in the U.S. Army in Panama. And in another coincidence, he had grown up near Chicago, so he realized that the women lived in the same South Side neighborhood.

McDaniel stopped Donna Washington, who said she had taken her grandson to see his father, stationed in Panama with the Army. But she wasn't able to tell him her son's address or rank.

When McDaniel asked to look inside her luggage, she blurted out that her bag was heavy. For him, that was a "tell," an inadvertent signal from a smuggler indicating where contraband is located.

Inside were six large baby formula cans and a seventh small one. McDaniel shook them and one rattled. Something solid was inside.

He suspected drugs. When he put the cans on a scale, the weights didn't match their labels. An X-ray showed that the can with solid pieces contained 1 1/2-inch pellets.

McDaniel tested the unknown liquid that was in a tube, and the contents turned blue. That meant cocaine.

He broke off a piece of pellet and repeated the test. The contents turned green. That meant heroin.

Washington feigned surprise. But her attitude turned indignant as McDaniel picked up the baby's bottle, twisted off the cap and sniffed it.

"What kind of person do you think I am?" she asked.

He didn't answer.


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Customs agents now had two arrests — in London and Atlanta — with the same pattern.

Both women carried other people's babies and lived in Englewood, the impoverished Chicago neighborhood. And both stood accused of smuggling drugs in the same ingenious way: infant formula cans — using infants as decoys.

Darling, a newcomer to Chicago and the Customs Service, started piecing together the puzzle. It was 1999, and this was his first big case. "I was looking to make my mark," he said.

Accompanied by a Chicago police officer, Darling returned to the couple whose baby had been stopped in London.

"You guys have got to tell me the truth," he told them. "This is real serious. It is not going to go away."

The parents, drug-addicted and HIV-positive, confessed, telling Darling a story that he would hear many times: A neighborhood woman, Selina Johnson, had asked to be their baby's godmother, promising free milk and clothes for the child.

Johnson was more than 6 feet tall, charismatic and formidable: As the so-called first lady of the Sisters of the Struggle — a female auxiliary of the Gangster Disciples street gang — she could deal drugs in her neighborhood with impunity.

The couple told Darling that when their baby was 3 weeks old, they allowed Johnson to take her for a few days — not even asking where she was going.

They eventually admitted that they had "rented" their baby as a decoy for international drug smugglers. The going rate: about $200-$400 a trip or a small amount of marijuana.

Other women too had taken their baby, they said.

Darling scribbled away on his notepad, his mind racing with a new reality: This drug ring was much bigger than he thought.


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A paper trail would provide many clues.

Darling and federal prosecutor Scott Levine spent months poring over stacks of customs records and airline tickets, tracking the couriers' travels.

The smugglers flew from Panama City and Montego Bay and Kingston, Jamaica to Chicago, New York, London and Birmingham, England, bringing in more than 100 kilos of cocaine and six kilos of heroin. The couriers were paid up to $4,000 a trip; some also received drugs.

Most of the drugs they carried were concealed in formula cans that the smugglers figured would escape detection by drug-sniffing dogs. Cocaine was liquefied in Panama and injected into the can, which was then soldered and the label reattached.

A kilo of cocaine (about three cans) that cost $5,000 in Panama could reap $20,000 or more in the United States and double that in England. Once it was cooked into crack and sold as dime bags, the profit multiplied by several times.

Jamaicans, Colombians, Panamanians and Americans participated in the conspiracy. Fake passports and driver's licenses were obtained, and the couriers took their own children or carried "rented" babies on dozens of trips, says Levine.

"Can you imagine a drug addict from Chicago traveling in a foreign country where she does not even speak the language, taking care of a baby she has never seen, attempting to score some heroin … while she waits for cocaine-filled baby formula cans to arrive?" the prosecutor said.

That happened to the child identified in court records as "Baby 8" — the girl behind Darling's first trip to Englewood.

On one trip, she was handed over to a stranger's family by an addict who was robbed while looking for heroin. On another, she was left alone in a slum hotel by a courier who went on a beer run.

One smuggler declared her too sickly to be a decoy. But he wasn't worried about her health. He feared that she'd catch the eye of Customs officials.


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Pete Darling would travel to London, Atlanta and New York, but many answers he was looking for came from Englewood.

"This wasn't just dealing with bad guys," he said. "This was dealing with human beings struggling every day…. My heart just kind of broke when I saw some of the conditions they were living in."

Darling and his frequent partner, Billy Warren, an agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration, played it low-key.

"I don't like to browbeat people," Darling said. "It's their house. It's their neighborhood."

The agents discovered that the truth often trickled out like water from a leaky faucet.

"Look," Darling would say on the third or fourth interview, "if you left some things out and want to bring them up now … I won't be offended if your story changes."

Many couriers were remorseful; others were hostile.

"Everyone has a button to push and you have to figure out what it is," Warren said.

But both agents also knew how important it was to win the confidence of the women. And that took time.

"I could spend an hour holding someone's hand," said Darling. "I would go through a very long empathetic speech … saying, 'We're not after the little people. We're going after the big people.' "


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Taking down a drug ring is like dismantling a pyramid from the bottom up.

That's how Levine and fellow prosecutor David Hoffman cracked this far-flung operation. First, they flipped the baby-carrying couriers, then worked their way up.

It wasn't long before several couriers had confessed and two leaders — Troy Henry and Orville Wilson, both Jamaicans — were cooperating. Wilson, in turn, told prosecutors that the formula cans were the brainchild of Clacy Watson Herrera, a Colombian charged with supplying most of the drugs.

For Levine and Hoffman, there were scores of interviews to conduct and the occasional humorous detour.

One woman insisted that she had traveled to Panama to see the Panama Canal. Levine asked her to compare the 50-mile-long canal with the 60-foot hallway outside his office. She declared them the same size.

Mostly, though, the case was deadly serious. It was sheer luck, Levine couldn't help thinking, that none of the 22 babies was injured or mistakenly given the cans filled with drugs.

It would take 2 1/2 years to make all the arrests.

The last was Selina Johnson, the recruiter apprehended at her grandmother's home.

Agents found Johnson — who had swallowed 20 to 30 dime bags of crack to hide evidence — sitting on a bed, resigned, while several children huddled nearby crying.

Over the next two years, 48 defendants pleaded guilty, including Johnson, who received a 10-year sentence.

Couriers were sentenced to five to 10 years in prison, the parents who rented their babies between 10 months and eight years. The only person who stood trial received a life sentence.

A leader who obtained some of the drugs and organized several Jamaican trips awaits sentencing, scheduled Wednesday.

Three men are fugitives, and Herrera is serving a 72-month sentence in Panama for drug trafficking on an unrelated case. Prosecutors are trying to extradite him.


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Pete Darling was there at the end of the case, just as he was in the beginning.

He appeared at the sentencing of three couriers — to testify on their behalf. "I wanted to help those girls who tried to help themselves … to send a message that I'm not here all the time to hurt people," he said.

One woman Darling helped was Kim Washington, who had thrown him out of her apartment when he came to ask about her mother, Donna, who had been arrested in Atlanta.

In the four years since, Kim Washington kicked drugs and found her first steady job.

"I was killing myself …," she told the judge. "I thank Pete Darling for arresting me … he saved my life because I couldn't do it myself."

"I did some good in this case," Darling said. "I saved a couple of people from going down the road of destruction and possibly death. And there's the babies — that's what bothered me so much. You have to have compassion in this job or you really shouldn't be doing this."
 
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