News and Press Releases

AirTran Employee Sentenced for Bypassing TSA Security with a Machine Gun

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 14, 2014

ATLANTA - Rasondo Maurice Norris, who attempted to smuggle cocaine and a Mac-11 machine gun onto a commercial flight has been sentenced to ten years in prison. 

“Security screening at our airports is vital to keeping citizens safe,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.  “By using his credentials to bypass security with backpacks of contraband, the defendant tried to allow drugs and a machine gun onboard a commercial flight.  Public safety is a responsibility we take seriously, and our office will continue to prosecute those who are endangering our citizens.”

“The defendant abused his position to enrich himself without any regard for the harm that could have resulted from his actions,” said Brock D. Nicholson, special agent in charge of HSI Atlanta. “HSI special agents will continue to work closely with our partners at Hartsfield-Jackson to ensure the safety of the traveling public.”

“As an integral part of the David G. Wilhelm OCDETF Strike Force, IRS Criminal Investigation is proud to have worked with our Strike Force partners to pursue this individual who disregarded the public trust for his own financial benefit.” stated Special Agent in Charge, Veronica F. Hyman-Pillot. “IRS Criminal Investigation not only enforces the nation's tax laws, but we also take particular interest in cases where the public is at risk due to unlawful activity.”

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court:  Norris, 30, of Stone Mountain, Ga., worked as a baggage handler for AirTran Airlines at the Hartsfield Jackson International Airport.  In May 2013, HSI Special Agents learned that, for a fee, Norris would help people engaged in criminal activity bring contraband onto airplanes by using his security clearance to bypass TSA security. 

On or about May 23, 2013, an HSI Special Agent, acting in an undercover capacity, gave the defendant a backpack containing what was represented to be five kilograms of cocaine.  Norris took the backpack from the undercover agent, bypassed security, and returned the backpack back to the agent once the agent cleared security.  In a similar manner, on May 30, 2013, Norris again bypassed security with a backpack, this time containing what was represented to be $500,000 in drug proceeds.  Finally, on June 5, 2013, Norris once more bypassed security with a backpack carrying what was represented to be three kilograms of cocaine, and a Mac 11 automatic firearm (which had been previously rendered inert by law enforcement agents), a magazine and a silencer.  Norris was paid between $600 and $800 each time he bypassed security with the contraband.

Norris admitted in court that he violated the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport’s security measures by bringing the Mac-11 machine gun, silencer, and magazine past the TSA security checkpoints and that he attempted to possess five kilograms of cocaine in the airport. 

Norris was sentenced by United States District Judge Steven C. Jones to ten years in prison.  Norris was convicted on October 10, 2013, after he pleaded guilty.  

The agents who investigated this case are assigned to the David G. Wilhelm OCDETF Strike Force and are employed by the following law enforcement agencies: the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation; and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Assistant United States Attorney Kamal Ghali prosecuted the case.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta recommends parents and children learn about the dangers of drugs at the following web site: www.justthinktwice.com.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the home page for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.

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