Former baggage handler sentenced in Hartsfield-Jackson gun smuggling case

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An airport employee was caught smuggling guns through the terminal because of major gaps in airport security standards.

A former Delta Air Lines baggage handler was sentenced Thursday to 30 months in prison for allegedly smuggling guns onto passenger planes at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

According to U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Byung J. "BJay" Pak, 34-year-old Eugene Harvey of College Park as a Delta baggage handler used his security badge to smuggle guns to restricted areas at the Atlanta airport in 2014.

At food courts or in men's restrooms on airport concourses, Harvey allegedly transferred the firearms to a former Delta employee, who hid the guns in carry-on bags and took them onto flights from Atlanta to New York. The guns were then illegally sold in New York, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

“Harvey breached airport security at one of the nation’s busiest airports in the world, when he smuggled illegal weapons - some of which were loaded - onto passenger planes,” Pak said in a written statement.

Harvey trafficked a total of 135 firearms between Georgia and New York, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. There were 18 guns in the last shipment on Dec. 10, 2014, including seven that were loaded. Harvey was arrested on federal charges 10 days later.

An FBI agent said for the last shipment, Harvey entered the airport through an employee parking lot. At the time, airline employees did not all have to pass through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints to get to flights. Harvey was able to use his security badge to access restricted areas.

Delta worked with law enforcement to identify Harvey and fired him.

“Mr. Harvey was not concerned with the safety of airline passengers or with the fact that his actions promoted violence on the streets of New York City,” said Arthur Peralta, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special agent in charge, in a written statement.

In response to the gun-smuggling revelations, Hartsfield-Jackson instituted new requirements for airport workers to go through security screening.

Harvey was recently convicted and sentenced in New York for state firearms violations, and the 30-month prison sentence is to be served concurrent with his current five-year sentence, followed by three years of supervised release.

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