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Man in bulletproof vest, with body bags in luggage, arrested at LAX

October 9, 2012 |  2:50 pm

A man who arrived in Los Angeles on a flight from Japan wearing a bulletproof vest and flame retardant pants underneath his trench coat has been charged with transporting dangerous materials, federal authorities said Tuesday.

As if the gear allegedly worn by Yongda Huang Harris wasn't alarming enough, authorities say he was also transporting assorted weapons, biohazard suits and body bags in his carry-on luggage.

Man arrested at LAX for transporting hazardous materialsHarris, 28, was arrested Friday and is expected to make his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon. He is charged with one count of transporting hazardous materials with a possible maximum sentence of up to five years in prison.

DOCUMENT: Man arrested at LAX for transporting hazardous materials 

A resident of Boston, Harris was due to fly home after arriving at LAX from Japan. But U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers observed his unusual choice in clothing and immediately referred him for secondary inspection.

The search turned up items that in addition to the body bags and biohazard suits included a pyrotechnic smoke grenade, three leather-coated billy clubs, a collapsible baton, a full-face respirator, various knives, a hatchet, handcuffs, leg irons and a device to repel dogs, authorities said. 

According to a federal affidavit, the Los Angeles Police Department’s bomb squad X-rayed the smoke grenade and determined that it was a prohibited device because it could fill the cabin of an  airplane with smoke or cause a fire.

Photos: Hidden weapons intercepted by the TSA

A formal investigation was opened by special agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations unit, and investigators are working closely with HSI’s attache office in Tokyo.

Harris, a U.S. citizen of Chinese descent, had been living and working recently in Japan. It was not immediately clear how or why the items were not detected at the airport where he departed in Japan.

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-- Andrew Blankstein

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