NEWARK, N.J. - A Pennsylvania man was arrested after the Transportation Security Administration found a handgun taped and wrapped in an ace bandage and found bullets inside of a hollowed-out bar of soap in his checked bag, the agency announced on Monday.
When authorities found the items, they said they called the man to return to the airline check-in counter. Port Authority police arrested him on a weapons charge.
The man told officers that the gun was given to him by a deceased family member and he was planning to take it to Lagos, Nigeria.
"This individual knew what was in his checked bag and he intentionally attempting to conceal both the gun and ammunition to bring overseas," Thomas Carter, TSA’s Federal Security Director for New Jersey, said. "In addition to screening carry-on bags, TSA officers also screen all checked baggage before it is permitted to be loaded onto an airplane. This was a good catch on the part of our officers."
TSA officers detected this handgun wrapped in an ace bandage with tape along with several bullets that were concealed inside a hollowed out bar of soap. (Credit: TSA)
In October, the TSA announced that its officers had detected a record number of firearms at airport security checkpoints this year.
The tally of firearms found at checkpoints set a 20-year record in the first nine months of 2021 – even with fewer passengers traveling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The agency said TSA officers had stopped 4,495 airline passengers from carrying firearms onto their flights. The previous record of firearms caught at checkpoints was 4,432 over the full calendar year 2019. Eleven firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at airport checkpoints per million passengers screened thus far in 2021.
The administration noted that passengers can follow proper packing guidance for firearms in checked baggage and declare them to their airline at check-in.
When passengers bring firearms to airport checkpoints, the TSA said it will assess a civil penalty that varies by the number of previous offenses and whether the firearm was loaded at the time.
TSA PreCheck members caught with a firearm at a TSA checkpoint may lose expedited screening privileges for three years or more.
An officer stopped the man with his gun among his carry-on items as they entered a checkpoint X-ray unit. The man told officials that he meant to declare the gun with his airline so that it would be transported with checked baggage, but that he forgot to do so.
FOX Business contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.