Anything to declare? Just knives, a hatchet, body bags, a grenade...

Investigation launched after passenger passes airport security despite weapons cache

An investigation has been launched into how a passenger boarded a US-bound plane without airport staff realising he was carrying a cache of weapons.

Yongda Huang Harris travelled from Japan with a stop-off in South Korea where screening revealed nothing suspicious but once he reached the US he was found to be wearing a bulletproof vest and had a smoke grenade, knives, clubs handcuffs, a gas mask and other weapons in his luggage.

Other items included bodybags, leg irons, duct tape a hatchet, a collapsible baton and a biohazard suit. His hand luggage had been searched when he boarded the flight and nothing dangerous was found but in the US the small armoury was located in his checked-in baggage.

Mr Harris, a US citizen, was arrested in Los Angeles and has been charged with transporting hazardous materials, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. He remained in custody after a court appearance on Tuesday and is expected to return to court today.

The charge relates to the smoke grenade which is banned from planes under the United Nations' explosives shipping rules. While the rest of the weaponry may be surprising it is not thought it breached air travel regulations because it was placed in luggage that was checked in rather than carried as accessible hand luggage.

Tom Blank, a former deputy administrator at the Transportation Security Administration, said the it is likely the US authorities will try to determine if the failure to spot the hand grenade was a one-off lapse or part of a wider problem.

"This clearly looks like an error. Something slipped through that should not have slipped through," he said.

Gadisa Goso, 29, a school administrator and neighbour of Mr Harris' mother in Boston, said: "The one thing that concerns me is he was able to board a plane internationally with all these weapons and nobody in Japan or Korea bothered to find these things until he got to America. That's a big concern."

Yasunori Oshima, an official at Japan's Land and Transport Ministry's aviation safety department, said there had been no official inquiry or request from US authorities to look into the case, which he said would have been more of a concern if the hazardous materials were brought on board rather than checked in.

"The case does not seem to pose any immediate concerns about aviation security measures in Japan," he said.

Airport police said they do not believe the case constitutes illegal conduct under the Japanese domestic criminal code, but Japan may cooperate at the request of US investigators.

Masahiro Nakamoto, an immigration officer at Kansai, said Japanese authorities did not report anything suspicious at the time Mr Harris boarded, but arriving passengers are checked more closely than those leaving the country.

If the US determines a country's airport doesn't meet US standards, it can ask for stronger security measures and even prohibit flights from flying directly to the US from that country.

There is no indication that Mr Harris, who does not have a criminal record, is linked to a terrorist organisation or planned to damage the plane. The grenade was not considered likely to be able to bring an aircraft down, though it could cause confusion and alarm by filling a cabin with smoke.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Extras
indybest
Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Support Worker

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A rewarding opportunity to work with an easy-...

Recruitment Genius: National Sales Account Executive

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company leads the market i...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum