News and Press Releases

Former McCarran Baggage Handler Sentenced to over Five Years in Prison for Stealing Guns from Checked Baggage

February 25, 2009

Las Vegas, Nev. – A former baggage handler at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas has been sentenced to more than five years in prison for stealing firearms from bags belonging to a Las Vegas police officer and the United States Air Force, announced Greg Brower, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

Salvatore Lanzafame, 21, was sentenced on Monday, February 23, 2009, by U.S. District Judge Philip M. Pro to 63 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Lanzafame pleaded guilty in September 2008 to two counts of possession and sale of a stolen firearm, theft of government property, and unlawful possession of a machine gun. His sentence was increased because there were more than three firearms involved, the firearms were stolen, and he engaged in the trafficking of the firearms.

On June 14, 2007, Lanzafame, a baggage handler for TGS Aviation Services, stole a 9mm semi-automatic pistol from the checked bag of a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Officer who was traveling on an Allegiant Air flight from Las Vegas to Lincoln, Nebraska. On August 5, 2007, Lanzafame sold the firearm to a 17-year-old juvenile in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, by shipping it to the juvenile in the checked baggage of an Allegiant Air flight. The juvenile paid Lanzafame $350 for the stolen firearm, and Lanzafame then shipped the handgun's two magazine clips, ammunition, leather magazine pouch, and gun lock key to the juvenile in Sioux Falls via United Parcel Service

On August 24, 2007, aided by another baggage handler, Lanzafame stole a locked "pelican" gun case belonging to the United States Air Force containing two fully automatic rifles and two 9mm semi-automatic pistols. Lanzafame knew the case contained the guns because he had been present when the case was opened and inspected by airport personnel. The locked gun case was recovered by an Allegiant Airlines supervisor who found it hidden under some chairs in an office behind the Allegiant Airlines ticket counter. After x-raying the case, it was determined that the firearms were gone and the case was empty. On August 25, 2007, Lanzafame approached the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Officers who were investigating the stolen gun case and admitted that he and the other baggage handler had stolen the guns. The two rifles and semi-automatic pistols were recovered from the Las Vegas residences of the baggage handlers. Under federal law the fully automatic rifles are classified as machine guns.

The case was investigated by the Transportation Security Administration Office of Inspection Investigations Division and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kimberly M. Frayn.

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