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New charges filed for man arrested at LAX with suitcase of weapons

NBCLA

Items found in Yongda Huang Harris luggage at LAX

New federal charges have been filed for a man who was arrested last month at Los Angeles International Airport allegedly carrying a smoke grenade in his luggage. He had also allegedly checked a bag with an odd combination of weapons in it.

Yongda Huang Harris, 28, plead not guilty Thursday in federal court to charges he'd made false statements about the countries he'd visited on his trip and the items he had purchased before hand.

The false statements charges replace the previous charge of transporting hazardous material. Harris, who authorites say was wearing a flame retardant pants and a bulletproof vest, was arrested Oct. 5 at LAX while on a layover from Japan to Boston. Airport security personnel found knives, a hachet, handcuffs and a baton when they searched his luggage, police said. They also said they found a smoke grenade. Federal prosecutors say they're still investigating that device.

In an indictment, prosecutors allege that Harris lied on his customs declaration form when he wrote that China was on the only country he had visited prior to arriving in the U.S.  They also accuse him of stating he only had $100 worth of items he purchased from abroad to bring into the U.S. Authorities maintain that Harris was in Japan for approximately 14 days.

Harris’ mood in court seemed lighter than during his first court hearing. Although restrained in chains at his waist, he was able to lift his hand slightly and wave hello to his mother who sat in the courtroom. Harris smiled a lot and waved often.

Harris replied in English, “Yes, sir,” or “Yes, your honor,” when the judge asked him questions.

His mother seemed uneasy in court; often, she rubbed her eyes. She declined to give her name or make any comments to the press.

Because Harris entered a not guilty plea, a trial hearing will be scheduled for January.  

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