A Delta baggage handler working at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta has been arrested by federal agents for helping to smuggle firearms onto passenger flights to New York. According to a FBI affidavit, there is sufficient evidence to charge Eugene Harvey, 31, with trafficking the firearms in addition to violating airport security. Harvey allegedly conspired with former Delta employee Mark Quentin Henry to traffic the weapons.
On December 10, Henry was arrested in New York on suspicion of weapons trafficking after an undercover police officer purchased a gun from one of his accomplices. Upon Henry’s arrest, authorities confiscated a black backpack containing 18 handguns and ammunition which he had carried with him on his flight from Atlanta.
In the course of investigation, cellphone records and security footage of the Atlanta airport were reviewed and authorities were able to determine that he conspired with Eugene Harvey to get the firearms aboard the flights.
CNN reported how the trafficking operation was carried out on December 10, as outlined in the FBI affidavit.
It was stated that Mark Henry went through security checkpoints with the backpack on way to the flight’s gate located in concourse B. Once there, he began to text Harvey. Investigators report that Harvey used his security clearance around 7 a.m. that morning to enter the secured area of the airport, accessed via Delta’s employee parking lot, with the guns in his possession. He later entered a restroom near Henry’s location after receiving texts from the other man. Surveillance video footage shows Henry entering the restroom and later exiting carrying the same backpack. It is believed that this is the point in which Harvey transferred the firearms and ammunition to Henry, who then boarded his flight.
The affidavit explained how Eugene Harvey was able to enter the airport with the guns using the parking lot entrance. “Employees entering this area are not subjected to screening by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), neither at the time of entry into the employee parking lot, nor upon entry to the internal secure/restricted area at Hartsfield-Jackson.”
According to the same document, Harvey used his security clearance to enter the airport parking lot several times during the year on days he was not scheduled to work. It was later discovered that on each of those occasions, Henry boarded a flight to New York.
Between May 1 and December 10, Henry boarded at least five flights from the Atlanta airport with guns and ammunition in his luggage provided to him by Harvey. At this time, it is known that 129 handguns and two assault rifles were smuggled to accomplices in New York aboard the planes.
With airlines being the target of terrorism and other crimes, such an incident raises the question as to whether or not airline workers should be screened by security upon arrival to the airport to prevent future attempts to traffic weapons or other illegal items.
[Image courtesy of Wikipedia]