FBI: Explosive found in bag at Pennsylvania airport, man arrested
ALLENTOWN, Pa. - A Pennsylvania man faces federal criminal charges after he checked in a suitcase with an explosive device hidden in the lining on a flight to Florida, authorities said Wednesday.
Marc Muffley, 40, is charged with possessing an explosive in an airport and possessing or attempting to place an explosive or incendiary device on an aircraft, according to a criminal complaint.
Prosecutors allege that the material was found in a suitcase Muffley had checked in Monday at Lehigh Valley International Airport to Allegiant Air Flight 201, which was bound for Orlando Sanford International Airport in Florida.
After an alert during security screening, the bag was examined and found hidden in the lining was a "circular compound" about three inches in diameter encased in a wax-like paper and clear plastic wrap.
An FBI bomb technician X-rayed the compound and concluded that it contained a granular powder consistent with a "commercial grade firework" and "suspected to be a mixture of flash powder and the dark granulars that are used in commercial grade fireworks."
Attached to it was a "quick fuse" similar to a candle wick — apparently part of the original manufacture of the compound — as well as a "hobby fuse" that burns more slowly and appeared to have been added after the manufacture, authorities said.
Authorities said they concluded that both the black powder and flash powder "are susceptible to ignite from heat and friction and posed a significant risk to the aircraft and passengers," according to the criminal complaint.
The baggage also contained "a can of butane, a lighter, a pipe with white powder residue, a wireless drill with cordless batteries, and two GFCI outlets taped together with black tape," authorities said.
GFCI outlets are a type of circuit breaker.
Authorities said Muffley was paged over the airport’s public address system and shortly thereafter he was seen leaving the airport. He was traced to a Lansford address where he was arrested by the FBI late Monday night.
Officials said he remains in custody pending a probable cause hearing and detention hearing Thursday at 1:30 p.m. in Allentown, with Muffley attending via videoconference. A message was left Wednesday for Muffley’s federal public defender, Timothy Wright.