TSA Launches Airport-Wide Security Surge
In the wake of the arrests of two Comair airline employees who allegedly carried 14 guns onto an airplane, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has implemented an airport-wide surge in employee security operations.
According to USA Today, Thomas Anthony Muñoz, 22, was arrested and charged March 5 after he used his airline ID to board a flight at San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport carrying a duffel bag containing 13 handguns, an assault rifle and 8 lbs. of marijuana.
Zabdiel Santiago Balaguer, 22, was arrested March 6 and charged with helping Muñoz.
The first in a series of TSA security surge operations was launched March 12 at Orlando International, Tampa International, Miami International, Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International and Luis Muñoz Marín International airports.
The administration has deployed 160 transportation security officers, aviation security inspectors, federal air marshals and other personnel to increase current employee and passenger security capabilities at the five airports.
One year ago, the TSA began randomly screening employees working in secure areas at 20 airports. The program was broadened last fall.
Details of the surge include:
- a sharp increase in random, unpredictable screening of employees in secure areas;
- limiting secure area access during non-business hours and auditing door access during those hours for suspicious activity;
- deploying integrated teams of federal air marshals, K-9 teams, law enforcement officers and transportation security officers to areas throughout the airport;
- conducting random screening of employees and passengers at boarding gates, including behavior detection; and
- Transportation security officers randomly inspecting aircraft.
“TSA moves in a flexible, nimble fashion to address vulnerabilities with a layered security approach,” says TSA Administrator Kip Hawley. “Every employee should have a reasonable expectation that they could be screened at any time, at any access point within the footprint of the airport.”
The TSA will conduct additional operations in other regions in the coming weeks and months on an unannounced basis.