Failed airport security has once again linked Boston with the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, the I-Team has learned.
In November, just days after a teenage stowaway from Charlotte dropped from an airplane preparing to land at Logan Airport, there was a second security breach at the same airport, this one involving cargo ticketed for Boston.
It was mid-morning on November 19 at Charlotte Douglas Airport when undercover inspectors from the Transportation Security Administration — the TSA — put airport security to the test at JetBlue, trying to get a package onto a commercial flight headed to Boston.
WBZ-TV’s Kathy Curran reports.
According to an internal TSA investigative report obtained by the I-Team, marked “sensitive security information,” JetBlue failed that cargo test miserably.
During the test, an undercover TSA inspector approached a JetBlue ticket agent and insisted he needed to get a package to Boston that day. The inspector handed the JetBlue employee a $100 bill, which he accepted and put in his pants pockets.
The ticket agent put the package in the name of an unwitting passenger on the flight to Boston — an unaccompanied minor — and it went through normal baggage screening. I was grabbed by the undercover TSA team just before it was loaded onto the jet.
“That’s really alarming,” said Anthony Amore, a former high-ranking TSA official at Logan Airport. “When you have multiple layers in place you hope that they all stand in the way of a terrorist or someone who wishes us harm. In this instance, many of the layers were cast aside and we were left with this one layer of checked baggage screening.”
Questions about air cargo security flared up in October when bombs were discovered in packages headed for the U.S. from Yemen. Now this latest breach in airport security has TSA inspectors concerned about cargo once again.
“Cargo’s a major concern,” Amore said. “One person decides not to care about security the way they should have and it could potentially have cost the lives of hundreds of people, for a hundred dollars.”
This is the second time recently that a breach in airport security has linked Logan Airport with the airport in Charlotte. The other incident was also in November, just four days before the TSA undercover operation, when the mangled body of a Charlotte teenager was discovered in a Milton neighborhood.
On November 15, Delvonte Tisdale, 16, was somehow able to get on the tarmac at the Charlotte airport and climb into the wheel well of a US Airways jet bound for Boston.
Tisdale’s body was later found in Milton by investigators who believe it fell from the jet as it made its approach into Logan.
“He had no money, no training, yet he was able to secrete himself in a commercial jetliner,” said Milton Police Chief Richard Wells.
Asked what the two incidents in Charlotte say about airport security, Chief Wells said: “It’s a battle of attention versus inattention. You can’t sit back and rest on your laurels.”
The TSA denied our request for an interview, but did issue a statement, which says in part, “While we cannot comment on the specifics of an open investigation, TSA can assure travelers that, like checked baggage, every package tendered at the airline counter is screened for explosives.”
JetBlue also released a statement to the I-Team saying the airline is “fully cooperating with the TSA’s investigation” and “the involved crew member is no longer employed at JetBlue.”