Wednesday, January 7, 2004
A federal grand jury in Denver indicted a Peruvian man who was attempting to board an aircraft at Yampa Valley Regional Airport on Dec. 30 with concealed dangerous weapons.
According to an affidavit in support of a criminal complaint filed before the indictment, Roque Cesar Contreras-Garay, 35, checked into the United Airlines ticket counter at YVRA for a flight to Denver International Airport and then ultimately to Peru. He then proceeded to the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint, where a screener X-rayed his carry-on bag.
The TSA screener noticed suspicious items on the X-ray and conducted a personal examination. The search revealed the bag contained a DVD/VHS player with two sharp 7.5-inch knives and a folding 4.5-inch knife, all "artfully concealed" inside the interior of the player, according to the affidavit.
Although YVRA's TSA Deputy Federal Security Director Robert Saltzman said last week that Contreras-Garay probably could not have accessed the knives while on board the flight, the affidavit stated the suspect would have had access to all three weapons while in the aircraft cabin.
"It would be speculation to determine how easily he could obtain them," said Jeff Dorschner, press officer for the U.S. Attorney's Office. "But he could obtain them, and that's the bottom line in terms of criminal prosecution."
"This case demonstrates that even at our country's smallest airports, TSA screeners are vitally important to ensure the safety of the flying public," John Suthers, U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado, said in a prepared statement. "In this case, TSA screeners found a man who allegedly intentionally concealed knives in an electronic device. While we do not believe he had terrorist intentions, his actions were contrary to law and point out the need for continued vigilance at all our airports."
If convicted, Contreras-Garay faces up to 10 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine for each of the three counts in the indictment. He will appear in court for a detention hearing at 10:30 a.m. today.
Contreras-Garay has worked on a ranch in Craig on and off for 13 years.
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