Formerly called the Canadair Flamingo, the MD-82 sits on the tarmac at Tegel Airport in Berlin in April. (Anas Meghji/DPA/AP Images)
Transportation security officials are trying to stop a large unauthorized weapons shipment from crossing U.S. borders, which would be the largest by far.
But the main concern isn’t the weaponry, but the thousands of firearms, grenades and explosives, according to Tom Bowman of The Washington Post.
The 9,000 boxes transported in six trucks have been seized at Spain’s ports of Malaga and Cadiz and, if impounded at U.S. ports, would represent the “largest smuggled cargo of rifles, grenades and explosives.”
US officials have tried to stop the shipment twice. First in May, then in June, customs officials at U.S. ports have caught the illegal cargo at Westchester and William F. Patterson Airports.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and Spanish authorities have seized 36 firearms, including M16s, machine guns and handguns, the Post reported. The passengers reportedly were charged with smuggling, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 12 years.
The country where the shipment originated — the United Arab Emirates — is on a list of countries that pose a security threat to the United States, Bowman wrote.
The weapons were reportedly headed to arms dealers in the UAE.
“A growing and nefarious arms trade in the Gulf region that turns weapons into terrorism and instability on the streets of Europe has exposed yet another layer of security vulnerabilities in U.S. airports,” John Stumpf, CEO of TSA and Customs and Border Protection, said in a statement.
“This cargo was destined for Spain, but if it ever arrived in U.S. soil, it would have likely remained hidden among legitimate cargo.”