Prosecutors revealed the details of an elaborate scheme to transport guns on Delta flights from Georgia to New York today, explaining how smugglers were able to evade screening at the nation’s busiest airport for months to carry guns and ammo on at least 20 flights.
The Brooklyn district attorney explained today how one former Delta employee, who used the unlimited flying pass his mother earned after being a longtime employee of the airline herself, and his associate, who still worked as a baggage handler for the airline, were allegedly able to operate a gun-smuggling operation by simply strolling onto planes with the weapons in carry-on bags.
Mark Henry, the former employee, was described as the alleged point man in the operation who met with his friend Eugene Harvey, the current employee, at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport before he would take flights to New York and they would exploit the fact that Harvey could bypass security screenings to get the guns on board.
Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson said that investigators were led to Henry and Harvey after focusing on the sales of guns in Brooklyn by a third man, who they have now determined to be Henry’s point person in New York.
“In this age of terrorism, it is simply unthinkable that anyone would breach the security of our nation’s airports to smuggle guns and ammunition, including assault weapons, on commercial airliners and jeopardize countless lives all to make money,” Thompson said. “To make matters worse, these guns were intended to hit the streets of Brooklyn, where they could have been used to shoot and kill our residents and police officers. The full weight of the law must now come down on these defendants.”
The Brooklyn-based man sold an undercover cop more than 150 firearms, many of which are believed to have come from Henry, prosecutors allege.
Henry’s arrest warrant details how police were able to pinpoint one specific instance when he allegedly smuggled 18 guns on a Dec. 10 flight.
According to the report, surveillance footage showed that Henry passed through security with an empty backpack, right around the time when Harvey swiped into the employees-only entry of the Hartsfield-Jackson airport. After getting into the airport via their respective entrances, the two men are seen going into the same bathroom near a gate. When Henry’s backpack was searched once he landed at JFK, there were 18 guns inside, authorities said.
Thompson did not go into detail about all of the flights that Henry is believed to have used to smuggle guns, but said he “took about 20 flights with guns on him on commercial airliners.” The operation is believed to have been in place between May and December of this year. The guns allegedly brought on board included an AK-47, with ammo.
The trips were especially efficient for Henry because he was able to use the “buddy pass” that his mother earned during her years of service at Delta, the DA said.
The district attorney praised the airline for its help throughout the investigation, saying that before they had enough proof to officially charge Henry, the airlines would notify investigators whenever Henry would board a flight.