A man from New Jersey has been accused with smuggling three firearms, including an AR-15, onto a commercial flight bound for Florida, according to federal investigators.
According to a criminal complaint made public on Monday, Seretse Clouden was arrested on allegations of being a felon in possession of a handgun and having a false identification card.
According to the complaint written by FBI task force officer Christopher Granato, agents with the Transportation Security Administration discovered gun magazines, ammunition, and a ballistic vest carrier inside a bag belonging to Clouden during a routine screening at Newark Liberty International Airport on December 30.
The agents then proceeded to Clouden’s gate, where he was scheduled to depart for Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Upon there, they conducted an interview with Clouden and removed his other luggage off the aircraft. Agents then discovered the following:
- A 5.56-caliber AR-15 rifle
- A .308-caliber rifle
- A .40-caliber Glock 22
- A spring-loaded knife
- A Taser
- A fraudulent U.S. Marshal badge with Clouden’s name and photo
- An expandable baton
It is unknown whether Clouden’s checked luggage contained the firearms or whether the weapons were in his carry-ons.
There is no phone number provided for Clouden, and it is unknown if he has an attorney.
Clouden was convicted of illegal possession of a firearm in 2016.
Record Number of Guns
Last year, the TSA seized a record amount of firearms at U.S. airports, discovering over 6,500 handguns in luggage.
Almost every year before to last year’s record, the numbers increased steadily.
“What we see at our checkpoints reflects what we see in society,” TSA chief David Pekoske told The Associated Press. “In society, more people are carrying firearms now.”
According to the TSA, the five U.S. airports where the most firearms were discovered last year are:
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport: 448 discoveries
- Dallas Fort Worth International Airport: 385 discoveries
- Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport: 298 discoveries
- Nashville International Airport: 213 discoveries
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport: 196 discoveries
What Are the Rules for Firearms on Planes?
According to the TSA, firearms are permitted on commercial aircraft if they are unloaded, packed in a secured, hard-sided case, and placed in checked baggage.
Passengers are expected to disclose any firearms and ammunition at the airline ticket counter during check-in.
Infringers may face citations or criminal charges, and the TSA may impose civil penalties.
In response to the unprecedented number of firearms discovered at airports, the TSA boosted civil penalties last year, increasing the maximum fine to almost $15,000 from roughly $14,000.