It’s being called one of the worst airline security breaches since September 11, 2001. A total of five people were arrested earlier this month on charges of conspiracy, trafficking, and illegally selling firearms after authorities uncovered a gun smuggling plot that resulted in more than 150 firearms being flown on commercial airliners from Atlanta to New York City. The guns that were smuggled included 9mm handguns and AK-47 assault weapons and were taken from Georgia to New York between May and December of this year.
Eugene Henry, a baggage handler with Delta who has been fired since his arrest, is accused of using his employee status to smuggle guns through airport security, where he would hand them off to a former Delta employee, Mark Quentin Henry. According to an FBI affidavit, the exchange took place in an airport bathroom. Henry would then take the guns on a flight from Atlanta to New York, where he then sold the guns. The undercover NYPD officer who bought the firearms allegedly purchased 129 guns in total over the seven month period. Brooklyn’s district attorney says that Henry boarded 20 domestic flights with guns during that time.
What does an incident like this say about the state of airport security in the post 9/11 world? How can we continue to feel safe while flying when it’s not terrorists we have to worry about, but airline employees? What should be changed about security measures for airline employees to prevent this from happening in the future?
Jeff Price, Professor of Aviation, Metropolitan State University in Denver and aviation security expert.