Baggage Handler Arrested for Stealing Guns

Baggage Handler Arrested for Stealing Guns
A handler at the Austin, Texas airport took several handguns that were checked in as luggage. photo from shortlist.comweb photo

It’s always worrisome flying with firearms. They’re expensive items, often with even more expensive and fragile items such as optics, perched atop them. You have to worry about baggage handlers tossing your guns about, no matter how sturdy your case is. And you have to go through the time-consuming procedure of checking them in.

Now, a baggage jockey in Texas is giving travelers another reason to worry about their firearms.

According to this brief from mystatesman.com, a baggage handler at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Texas has been arrested by the FBI after it was discovered that he'd ben stealing firearms from travelers' baggage.

The story reports the Justice Department said 25-year-old Ja'Quan Johnson surrendered to federal agents on Wednesday.

Johnson has been charged with “theft from an interstate shipment” and possession of stolen firearms. Officials say they believe he stole several handguns between Nov. 29 and Feb. 2 and traded several of them for marijuana.

He could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted. He has been released on a personal recognizance bond after his initial court appearance.

Two other men were arrested by Austin police in connection with the case. Matthew Bartlett, 21, and Catronn Hewitt, 36, have been charged with felony possession of marijuana, the story says.

The story says police recovered several of the firearms believe to have been stolen by Johnson.

The FBI and Austin police told mystatesman.com that the investigation is continuing.

In order to travel by air with a firearm, one must have it unloaded in a locked, secure hard-sided container as checked baggage only. The firearm must then be declared, along with any ammunition, to the airline when checking the bag.

Ammunition must be placed in checked bags with the firearm or in a separate locked box.