Insects, larva and a loaded gun confiscated at Virginia’s Dulles Airport in September

It’s all in a day’s work for airport security personnel. In the month of September, a sampling of confiscated items at Dulles International Airport in Virginia found insects, larva and a handgun loaded with 13 bullets.

Airport authorities stopped a Centreville, Virginia, man from carrying a handmade gun loaded with 13 bullets onto his flight Sunday at Washington Dulles International Airport.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) confiscated the weapon and cited the man on weapons charges. He also faces stiff financial federal penalties for carrying a gun to a TSA checkpoint, a TSA spokesperson said.

“Bringing weapons to an airport checkpoint carries a federal civil penalty because TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns and knives with them at a checkpoint,” TSA said in a statement.

“This applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits because even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane.”

TSA officers have confiscated 13 guns so far this year at security checkpoints at Dulles Airport. Between 2017 and 2021, 75 firearms have been detected.

Nationwide, TSA detected 3,257 firearms on passengers or in their carry-on bags at checkpoints in 2020, although the total number of passengers screened at airport checkpoints across the country was significantly lower compared to 2019 — due to the pandemic.

Twice as many firearms per million passengers screened were detected at checkpoints in 2020, as a result, TSA said. Of the guns caught in 2020, about 83% were loaded.

“Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and passengers should do their homework to make sure that they are not violating any local firearm laws. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition,” TSA said.

On Sept. 7, agriculture specialists with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) intercepted over 100 pounds of prohibited cow skins and dried beef in passenger baggage at Dulles. Wood bark, leaves and insects were also discovered.

The passengers from Nigeria and Cameroon were bound for Maryland, CBP said.

They arrived at Dulles Sept. 7 on a flight from Ethiopia and were separately referred to secondary baggage examinations, CBP said.

“The passenger from Nigeria initially declared that she possessed no agriculture products, but when given another opportunity amended her declaration to include cow skins. During her baggage exam, CBP agriculture specialists discovered 66 pounds of cow skins and a little more than two pounds of wood bark. A closer inspection of the wood bark revealed a live insect larva,” CBP said.

“The passenger from Cameroon declared that he was only carrying dried eru, a green leafy African vegetable; however, an x-ray detected anomalies in his baggage. Agriculture specialists inspected his baggage and discovered 44 pounds of dried beef, more than four pounds of wood bark, and soursop leaves, a plant alleged to have healing properties in Africa. Additionally, agriculture specialists discovered numerous insects and potential plant disease.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, cow skins and dried beef potentially carry highly contagious or deadly animal diseases “that could threaten our nation’s cattle and livestock industries.”

CBP said during a typical day last year at U.S. ports of entry, 3,091 prohibited plant, meat, animal byproducts, and soil was intercepted, in addition to 250 insect pests.

Glynis Kazanjian

Glynis Kazanjian has been a freelance writer covering Maryland politics and government on the local, state and federal levels for the last 11 years. Her work is published in Maryland Matters, the Baltimore Post Examiner, Bethesda Beat and Md. Reporter. She has also worked as a true crime researcher.

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