AirTran employee sentenced for bypassing TSA with machine gun

ATLANTA — A baggage handler for AirTran Airways who attempted to smuggle cocaine and a Mac-11 machine gun onto a commercial flight has been sentenced to a decade in prison.

U.S. District Judge Steven C. Jones last week sentenced Rasondo Maurice Norris, 30, of Stone Mountain, Ga., to ten years in prison. Norris pleaded guilty in October to a charge he brought contraband onto airplanes at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport by using his security clearance to bypass TSA security.

“Security screening at our airports is vital to keeping citizens safe,” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in a statement. “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.”

In May 2013, an undercover Homeland Security agent gave Norris a backpack with five kilograms of cocaine. Norris took the backpack from the agent, bypassed security and returned the backpack back to the agent once the agent cleared security, according to the feds.

About a week later, Norris again bypassed security with a backpack, this time containing what was represented to be $500,000 in drug proceeds. Norris bypassed security a third time with a backpack carrying what was represented to be three kilograms of cocaine and a Mac 11 automatic firearm that was 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 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.

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