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Questioning Airport Security

Federal officials said Wednesday's high-profile airport drug arrests in Miami pointed to serious security weaknesses in the airline industry's oversight of its own employees. Such weaknesses are more frightening when you add in the smuggling of guns and grenades onto crowded passenger flights.

"When you are going down that aisle and trying to find your seat and putting your bag up with your tennis racket and your kids' toys, you are competing with this," says Patti Galupo, of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, holding up a hand grenade.

Miami International Airport, which handles the lion's share of flights from drug-producing countries, has been a recurring law enforcement problem, reports CBS News Correspondent Eric Engberg.

"This investigation is just a Band-Aid," according to Vince Mazzilli of the Drug Enforcement Administration. "What's really important is that we take some action as a society to correct this problem."

Because airline employees with proper identification can gain access to high security areas of an airport -- where it's easy to sneak drugs onboard or off a plane -- company background checks of the employees are critical in preventing smuggling.

But Customs Chief Ray Kelly says the Miami case should be what he called a "wake-up call" to the airlines.

"We just simply want airlines to be more vigilant and monitor their employees," Kelly says. "Don't forget that employees have virtually carte blanch in terms of being on the tarmac and being in restricted areas."

The government has the power to fine airlines if their anti-smuggling efforts are found inadequate. But for now officials aren't threatening that, hoping that security will be stepped up voluntarily. They stress that American Airlines had cooperated fully in the Miami investigation and that no one in management was involved in the smuggling.

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