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Airport security checks to be tightened following handgun find

2012/07/08 16:39:16

Taipei, July 8 (CNA) The Aviation Police Office said Sunday that it will tighten security checks after an outbound U.S. citizen was found to have a handgun and ammunition concealed in her checked-in luggage a day earlier.

The office said that customs officers who failed to spot the weapon when the woman, surnamed Liang, entered Taiwan will be disciplined for negligence. It said it will also tighten security checks on checked-in luggage.

The remarks came after the woman, a U.S. citizen of Taiwanese descent, and her son and daughter were found to have a .22 handgun, its magazine and seven bullets in one of their checked-in suitcases at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport when they were leaving for the U.S.

The office said the gun was successfully brought from Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina to Taipei May 27.

Liang, 45, and her children transferred through John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Osaka in Japan before arriving in Taiwan for a family visit.

None of the customs officials in any of the three countries noticed the pistol, despite passing the luggage through X-ray machines, the office said.

Liang was handed over to the Taoyuan District Prosecutors Office for violation of the Criminal Code and the Act on Controlling Guns, Ammunition and Knives. Her daughter, aged 14, was also sent to a juvenile court because the weapon was found in her suitcase, the police office said.

The gun was legally registered in the U.S. by Liang's husband, a Chinese American, according to airport police.

Liang contended that her husband had forgotten he had left the gun in the suitcase and that she and her children were unaware of the items in the bag.

(By Bien Chen-feng and Jamie Wang)