Airport Boosts Security After Gun Arrests

In this photo provided by the Puerto Rico police show seized weapons, Tuesday, March 6, 2007, in Puerto Rico. AP/Puerto Rico police

Orlando International Airport will begin screening all employees who enter secure areas after baggage handlers were accused of smuggling guns aboard a commercial airliner last week.

The change follows lengthy meetings involving airport officials, the Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown.

"This is the No. 1 tourist destination in the world," Brown told the Orlando Sentinel for a story Tuesday. "I want full confidence in the system."

TSA officials on Tuesday were also expected to announce a "security surge" at Orlando and three other Florida international airports.

More than 160 security officers, aviation inspectors, federal air marshals and others were to be dispatched to Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Fort Lauderdale. A fifth airport, the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was also included in the safety plan.

TSA officials said it was a first step, but aviation security analyst Charles Slepian tells CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian "it's barely a Band-Aid on a bigger problem."

"When we highlight the fact that you can smuggle guns, we're also saying you can smuggle bombs, you can smuggle chemical weapons. If we don't search people in the backs of airports, we are totally exposed," Slepian tells CBS News.

The agency was criticized last week after law enforcement officials made four arrests in connection with a drug-smuggling ring that bypassed Orlando airport security to send guns and drugs to Puerto Rico.

Back in January, with hidden cameras, CBS News revealed a gaping hole in airport security, how unlike passengers, pilots and flight attendants, some 700,000 airport workers with ID badges are allowed to completely bypass airport screening areas at virtually all our nation's 452 commercial airlines.

Airline pilots tell CBS News they are not looking for a magic bullet, but they are looking to close this loophole and Florida's new regulations make it in one pilot's words, "a little less likely" someone will slip through.


  • Joel Roberts

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