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Press Release

U.S. Attorney Warns of Potential Charges for Interfering with NTSB Investigation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

HOUSTON – Anyone that knowingly removes, conceals or withholds a part of a civil aircraft involved in an accident could face civil penalties, criminal charges or both, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Atlas Air Flight 3591 left Miami at 11:30 a.m. Eastern time Saturday, Feb. 23, bound for Houston. At approximately 12:40 p.m., the twin-engine Boeing 767 cargo jetliner crashed into Trinity Bay near Anahuac.

The FBI has urged anyone with information, photos or videos regarding the incident or with knowledge of debris from the crash to call 1-800-CALL-FBI.

“It should be obvious to everyone, but do not pick up or remove pieces of the wreckage. It can interfere with the investigation and could lead to criminal charges,” said Patrick. “If you do come across debris on your property, please contact the FBI. Additionally, the NTSB and FBI have asked that area residents and businesses check security cameras for possible video of the crash.”

It is a federal crime to withhold part of a civil aircraft involved in an accident. If convicted of knowingly and without authority removing, concealing or withholding a part of such an aircraft, or property on the aircraft at the time of the accident could face up to 10 years in prison, if convicted. The charge could also carry a fine of up to $250,000.

The NTSB is leading the investigation with cooperation and assistance from FBI, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Department of Public Safety, sheriff’s offices in Chambers and Harris Counties and the Houston Police Department, among others.

Updated February 25, 2019