A New Jersey man attempted to board a flight with an AR-15 rifle, handguns, a Taser and a fake U.S. Marshal’s badge, according to a federal complaint.
Seretse Clouden, a felon, tried to board the flight at Newark Liberty International Airport on Dec. 30. He was charged with unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition by a convicted felon and fraudulent possession of an identification document and authentication feature of the U.S.
“During routine screening of checked luggage that was destined for Fort Lauderdale, Transportation Security Administration agents discovered two .40 caliber Glock magazines, each containing fifteen rounds of .40 caliber ammunition,” the complaint read. “A further search of that luggage revealed a ballistic vest carrier that displayed the words ‘Deputy Marshal.’”
According to the complaint, the U.S. Marshals Service confirmed that Clouden had never been employed by the agency.
Agents responded to the gate Clouden’s flight was scheduled to leave from after learning of what was in his luggage. He told officers he did not have law enforcement credentials or firearms ID cards.
His luggage was removed from the aircraft and officers discovered in his bags an AR-15 rifle, a .40 caliber handgun, a Taser, a spring-loaded knife, an expandable baton and a .308 caliber rifle.
Officers also found “United States Marshal” credentials with his name and picture displayed on them and a badge.
In 2016, Clouden pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a weapon.
The unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition by a convicted felon charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000, and the charge for fraudulent possession of an identification document can carry a maximum sentence of 15 years, a fine or both.
More than 800 firearms have been intercepted at airport checkpoints so far this year.
“It’s absolutely not acceptable for firearms to be anywhere near checkpoints,” TSA spokesperson R. Carter Langston said in a statement. “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.”
The TSA set a record in 2022 by intercepting more than 6,500 firearms at airport checkpoints in the U.S. The firearms were discovered in 262 airports, with 88% of them being loaded.