Scary Airline Employees
What's the right time to get alarmed about airport and airline security? Maybe when security officials start patting down other security officials?
That's part of what was going on yesterday at airports in Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and San Juan. The Transporation Security Administration was also searching airplanes and airport vehicles in those airports, and plans to extend surprise inspections to other airports this week.
The move came as a response to last week's incident in which two airline employees smuggled more than a dozen firearms into a jet leaving Orlando. One of the workers, Thomas Munoz, a Comair baggage handler, and Comair worker Zabdiel Santiago-Balaguer, allegedly used their work I.D.s to get into restricted areas of the Orlando International Airport on March 5. They smuggled a bag with 14 firearms and eight pounds of marijuana onto a plane bound for San Juan. Since then, three others, including another Comair employee, have been arrested as suspects in a drug and gun smuggling ring operating out of Orlando airport, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Munoz got caught when he landed, thanks to a tipster.
All employees with access to sensitive areas of airports are routinely fingerprinted and given background checks. You have to wonder how good the checks are, though, given that Santiago-Balaguer has a picture of himself on his Web site holding an assault weapon and a big wad of cash. That might have raised some questions, you'd think.
Then there's the issue of employees with work I.D.s not having to go through security in many airports. TSA officials generally do random checks of employees. Yesterday, all employees going behind security barriers were being screened in Orlando. Seems like a good idea to me.
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