Man arrested after smoke grenade found in luggage

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by SHAYA TAYEFE MOHAJER

Associated Press

Posted on October 9, 2012 at 6:24 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A man dressed in body armor was arrested by federal officials at Los Angeles International Airport after a smoke grenade, gas mask, leg irons and weapons were discovered in his luggage, authorities said Tuesday.

Boston-bound Yongda Huang Harris, 28, was arrested Friday on suspicion of transporting hazardous materials on a flight from Japan, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said.

Harris is a U.S. citizen whose permanent residence is in Boston and recently started living and working in Japan, officials said.

Harris was expected to make an initial appearance in federal court Tuesday after being charged with one count of transporting hazardous materials. The offense carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison.

Federal authorities provided no details about why Harris might have been carrying the items. An investigation is ongoing.

Harris drew suspicion when U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the airport said they noticed he was wearing a bulletproof vest and flame retardant pants under his trench coat.

The observation triggered a formal investigation by Homeland Security special agents.

In a search of checked luggage, numerous suspicious items were uncovered, including knives, body bags, hatchet, collapsible baton, biohazard suit, full-face respirator and billy clubs, authorities said.

The smoke grenade was subsequently X-rayed by the Los Angeles Police Department's bomb squad. Officers said the device fell into a category that is prohibited on board passenger aircraft by the United Nations.

"Depending on the conditions when it is ignited, the smoke grenade, made by Commando Manufacturers, could potentially fill the cabin of a commercial airplane with smoke or cause a fire," federal officials said in a release.

Attempts to reach Harris' family in Boston and his associates were unsuccessful.

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Associated Press writer Rodrique Ngowi contributed to this report from Boston.

 

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