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Man tried to board flight with machine gun, fake U.S. Marshal badge, taser, feds say

TSA: Record number of guns found in luggage
TSA reports record number of gun seizures at airports 04:05

A New Jersey man faces multiple federal criminal charges after he allegedly attempted to board an airplane with firearms, ammunition, a bulletproof vest and fraudulent law enforcement credentials, authorities said this week. Two semi-automatic rifles were among the weapons found inside the man's checked baggage at Newark Liberty International Airport last December, according to a recent complaint.

Seretse Clouden, identified as a 42-year-old originally from Bergen County, is accused of carrying three firearms in his checked luggage when he entered the airport on Dec. 30 for a scheduled flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release announcing the case on Monday. 

Authorities say that agents with the Transportation Security Administration initially discovered two .40 caliber Glock magazines, each of which contained 15 rounds of ammunition, and a ballistic vest carrier in Clouden's luggage during a routine screening before the flight's departure. The words "Deputy Marshal" were displayed on the vest carrier, the Justice Department said.

When TSA agents proceeded to investigate other checked bags belonging to Clouden, they found a bevy of additional weapons, including some typically used and associated with American police officers. Along with a .40 caliber Glock 22 handgun, agents discovered a .308 caliber DPMS Panther Arms rifle and a 5.56 caliber AR-15 rifle — which meets the definition of a machine gun under the National Firearms Act — as well as an expandable baton, a spring-loaded knife and a taser, authorities said.

According to the criminal complaint, filed on Feb. 9 and signed by a task force officer at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Clouden's luggage also contained forged identification documents like "United States Marshal" credentials bearing Clouden's name and photograph and a "United States Marshal" badge. The United States Marshals Service confirmed that Clouden was never employed by the agency, according to the Justice Department. 

"It's absolutely not acceptable for firearms to be anywhere near checkpoints," said R. Carter Langston, a spokesperson for TSA, in a statement to CBS News. "There is a legally permissible way to bring firearms in checked baggage, but you have to be legally able to carry a firearm in your jurisdiction, declare it with the airline and pack it properly in a hard-sided and locked case."

Another TSA spokesperson told CBS News that the agency does not comment on criminal complaints as a policy and could not speak specifically to Clouden's case.

"Transportation Security Officers are highly trained and highly skilled professionals at the front line of aviation security and catches such as this illustrate the point," the spokesperson said.

Clouden had previously been convicted of a crime punishable by a prison term exceeding one year, the criminal complaint states. He is now charged with one count of unlawful possession of a firearm or ammunition by a convicted felon and one count of fraudulent possession of an identification document and authentication feature of the United States, according to the complaint.

The count of unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition by a convicted felon carries a maximum potential penalty of 15 years in prison, while fraudulent possession of an identification document and authentication feature of the U.S. carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine, the Justice Department said.

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