Wednesday June 19, 2013
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I don't know what will come of all this, but Yongda Huang Harris, 28, was taken into custody recently during a stopover on a trip from Japan, on his way through Los Angeles International Airport to Boston, when U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers reported noticing he was wearing "protective gear" under his trench coat. The protective gear was a bulletproof vest and a pair of flame-proof pants.
When his luggage was checked it was found to contain "a smoke grenade, knives, body bags, a hatchet, a collapsible baton, a biohazard suit, a gas mask, billy clubs, handcuffs, leg irons and a device to repel dogs."
The smoke grenade alone is enough to earn the man five years in federal prison. It is obviously forbidden aboard an aircraft, but some of the other items--such as the knives and hatchets--are not banned in stowed luggage.
The report was unclear regarding what Harris had on his body and what he had checked in baggage, so we'll have to wait a bit to find out. However, the fact that Harris, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Chinese descent who lives with his family in Boston is not cooperated with authorities attempting to interview him is suspicious.
I'll keep you informed.
(The latest report, from ABC News, adds only this: When asked what he was up to, Harris said only: "This is a game." ABC reported that Harris was also carrying a laptop, which was found to contain Japanese fantasy rape writings, pornography and a copy of The Poor Man's James Bond, a text that instructs readers how to build bombs and improvised weaponry.)
Just ask yourself this: What earthly reason could someone have to board and aircraft wearing a bulletproof vest and flame-proof pants?
Something that I am completely perplexed by... Airline gate agents have denied boarding to women wearing too low cut blouses or dresses, which are showing too much cleavage, women with skirts that are too short, chldren with Down's syndrome, and many other completely arbitrary judgements, and yet they allow a man to board who, as Tom said, was wearing a bullet-proof vest, flame retardant pants, knee pads and a trench coat covering it all. All of this for a flight from Japan, which is of several hours duration. He had to have been ridiculously uncomfortable!!
I think part of the answer to the airline puzzle is the fact that he boarded in Japan. I don't think they are as much worried about things as we are. They don't seem to be as much of a target. Of course, it could be that he put the items aboard in Korea, not Japan. I ran across this additional comment in a different news report on the incident. "Harris traveled from Kansai, Japan, to Inchon, Korea, before landing in Los Angeles." Nothing that happens in Korea would surprise me.
And you're right. How in the world anyone could wear a bulletproof vest under a trench coat all the way from the Far East to LA on a plane I do not know. It would be incredibly uncomfortable--and hot! I imagine it was that fact that made the officials view him with such suspicion. They have said that it may be that only the smoke grenade is his baggage violated federal laws, but he may have a bigger problem that he realizes because landing in LA and taking your luggage to another airline puts you in CA, and the laws on some weapons are very different there. I have travelled from country to country with rifles and other weapons in my baggage (not concealed, just like that, not even wrapped, just plain old, "Here you go; here's my rifle. Stow it." But what I knew was that as long as I never took possession of them they stayed in international space and were never actually in each country. So I just put them aboard, flew from place to place on the same aircraft, and had no problems. But he got off the plane in LA. Bad mistake!
And about the rest? I read about that Down's syndrome kid a few days ago and it made me mad as hell. That was terrible. Those people have enough trouble. They don't need more.
I wonder how long it takes to fly from Japan to CA these days?
Update for you,
Yongda Huang Harris pleaded not guilty Thursday to lying on his customs form when he was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport wearing a bulletproof vest and with checked bags containing knives, a smoke grenade and other weapons.
The one-count indictment replaced an original charge of transporting hazardous materials.
If convicted of the new charge of making false statements, Harris could face up to five years in prison.
Authorities said Harris lied on his customs declaration by not stating that he visited Japan and by stating he had only $100 in items purchased abroad.
I'll just remind you that the things he was carrying included a hatchet, knives, collapsible baton, handcuffs and other items that were permitted to be transported in checked bags.
One more tidbit for you: Prosecutors said the items looked like a kidnap kit. They said at a court hearing last month that Harris had files on his computer detailing how to kidnap and kill people.
The circumstances involving the smoke grenade remained under investigation. Authorities have said it falls into a category of items prohibited on passenger aircraft.
Where this will end is anyone's guess.
Of course, you are as much "anyone" as anybody else. Care to hazard a guess?
Is this going to turn out to be strictly routine, or something ultra-wierd?
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