Former baggage handler sentenced for smuggling loaded firearms onto aircraft
ATLANTA - Eugene Harvey, a former baggage handler for Delta Air Lines at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, has been sentenced to federal prison for conspiring to carry hundreds or weapons onto passenger planes, as a part of a scheme to traffic firearms from Georgia to New York.
“Harvey breached airport security at one of the nation’s busiest airports in the world, when he smuggled illegal weapons - some of which were loaded - onto passenger airplanes,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “We take airline safety seriously and we will continue to prosecute individuals who threaten the safety of our airline travelers.”
“There is no telling how many homicides were prevented by stopping Harvey and his accomplices from continuing to smuggle guns, not to mention the airline safety factor the guns posed,” said Ricardo Grave de Peralta, Acting Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “This case is another example of our determination to make our neighborhoods safer by keeping illegal firearms off our streets.”
“Firearms trafficking puts guns into the hands of violent criminals,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Arthur Peralta. “Mr. Harvey was not concerned with the safety of airline passengers or with the fact that his actions promoted violence on the streets of New York City. We must all work together to ensure that people like Mr. Harvey are identified, arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges and other information presented in court: Throughout 2014, Harvey used his security badge to smuggle firearms through airport-controlled security checkpoints at Hartsfield-Jackson, while working as a baggage handler for Delta Air Lines. He then transferred the firearms to his accomplice, another former Delta employee. The accomplice concealed the firearms in his carry-on luggage and took them into the passenger cabins of flights traveling between Atlanta and New York’s JFK and LaGuardia Airports. The transfer of the firearms would take place in locations past the Transportation Security Administration’s checkpoints - such as a men’s restrooms or food court areas. The transfer locations were agreed upon through text messages prior to the handoff. Harvey’s accomplice then flew to New York with the guns, where they were illegally sold by a third accomplice.
A federal investigation into Harvey began when the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the Kings County, New York, District Attorney’s Office notified the FBI that an unidentified individual was helping a gun trafficker move firearms illegally from Georgia to New York. The NYPD identified and arrested the New York seller of the illegal firearms, and worked with the Atlanta FBI Office to investigate how the guns were being smuggled into New York. Upon learning the firearms were being smuggled on passenger planes, Delta Air Lines worked closely with law enforcement to identify Harvey as the inside smuggler and immediately terminated his employment.
In total, Harvey trafficked 135 firearms between Georgia and New York. The last shipment on December 10, 2014, contained 18 firearms, seven of which were loaded.
Eugene Harvey, 34 of College Park, Georgia and his co-conspirators were recently convicted and sentenced in New York for state firearms violations. Harvey was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr. to 30 months in prison to run concurrent with the five year sentence he is currently serving in New York, to be followed by three years supervised release for conspiring to carry guns onto an aircraft as part of a scheme to traffic firearms to New York. Harvey was arrested on the federal charges on December 20, 2014 and he pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge on December 8, 2017.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Federal Air Marshals, with assistance from the Transportation Security Administration.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim S. Dammers, Chief of the Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Skye Davis prosecuted the case.
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 U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.