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Charter Operator Gets Suspicious When Passenger has 13 Pieces of Luggage - Filled with 500lbs of Marijuana

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Authorities have arrested a California woman they say flew to Ohio on a private jet with 506 pounds of marijuana in 13 suitcases. Drug Enforcement Administration agent Anthony Marotta says 28-year-old Lisette Lee and three others were arrested at the airport in Columbus on Monday night. They had arrived on a plane chartered from Van Nuys, Calif. (www.krqe.com) עוד...

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chiphermes
Chip Hermes 0
No reason to charter a G4 -- on Continental, the checked baggage fees would've been only $1,160.
clarkewil
Will Clarke 0
This is absolute proof positive why TSA needs to be involved in EVERY aspect of private and commercial aviation. What if that wasn't 13 bags on marijuana? There is no way even the greenest, rookie TSA employee could have missed 13 bags of marijuana. The fact that charter aircraft, their passengers, and cargo at local and municipal airporst go though ZERO inspection is as absurd as letting BP drill for oil a mile below the surface of the ocean. When something goes wrong there is no stopping it. Mind you, the lady confessed to doin this on FOUR previous occassions.
mduell
Mark Duell 0
This is not an issue of transportation *security*. It's just smuggling.

Does the TSA need to be involved when you drive your car to another city 100 miles away? You could have a 100 keys in the trunk.
kfdpiper
Bruce Rutter 0
I agree with Mark,I fly in and out of airports where there is no fuel available no people no nothing.....how is TSA going to monitor that!!!There are so many private airfields around and certainly not enough TSA to monitor these.TSA can't catch everything at major airports let alone small ones. The reality is these folks are smugglers and got caught...
clarkewil
Will Clarke 0
You guys make my point for me. What if it wasn't marijuana, and was weapons, or biological agents. If you watched the story, the lady had 3 ounces of cocaine and marijuana on her person. That's a lot of carry-on. Van Nuys is not an airport in the middle of nowhere, it's in the middle of Los Angeles, and that aircraft was a Gulfstream, not a lawnmower with wings. That lady and her bodyguard could have very well had weapons and taken the aircraft. A Gulfstream jet into a building, or into an LAX terminal could take out a lot of people. You guys need to see the bigger picture. Hijackers took four planes with box cutters for Gods sake. This is 13 suitcases, and 506 pounds. Bruce...in the middle of nowhere, I agree, not an issue, but this is the second largest city in America. Mark....a car can't kill 5,000 people in and take down a 1,000 foot building.
bentomblin
Ben Tomblin 0
Yawn. Big deal.
jeyrivera89
Jesus Rivera 0
This stuff is always happening and probably will continue to happen. Especially when there are druggies who ARE pilots and have their own jets/props. This is really nothing new. Just one idiot who got caught.

(remember the movie 'blow')
RobDover
Rob Dover 0
She was making a living, although not legit, so weapons or no weapons, she wasn't going to take over the G4 and crash it into a building. Also, the TSA DOES govern and control charter flights. All passengers on charter flights are REQUIRED to be screened against the governments no fly list.
TimCMH
TimCMH 0
Will - A car can't do that, but a Ryder did. Ok. City 1993. Were was the regulation and background checks after a rented truck killed hundreds of people and brought down 2/3 of a Federal office building?
joelr
Joel Rodriguez 0
Hmmm. How many untowered airports can actually accommodate a G4/larger aircraft? Maybe those airports should be regulated and restricted to small aircraft and non-charter ops. I mean, a charted Falcon/G4 flying into tim-buck-too dirt air strip would make me suspicious.

Any towered airport that accommodates charter ops and larger aircraft should be subjected to TSA screening period, regardless of the purpose of flight. The full screening too, body scanners, xray machines, and all.
clarkewil
Will Clarke 0
Bravo Joel.
kb9uwu
Matt Comerford 0
I think the FCC should monitor Joel and Will's internet usage (not really)... they could be plotting against us!
joelr
Joel Rodriguez 0
ROFL - Matt, I like your sense of humor! :)
mattdavis
mattdavis 0
Will, you are right, something like what you described could happen. . .but the important thing to notice is that it hasn't happened, and the likelihood that it would happen is incredibly low. On a personal note, I don't want to live in a world where we invite our government to intrude in our lives for the sake of 'protecting' us against something that has a very low chance of ever occurring. Those intrusions are far more costly than any damage a psychotic flying a GLF4 could ever do.
joelr
Joel Rodriguez 0
Will, you do make a good point, and Matt is correct, the chances of something like this are low, but the fact is they could happen. I mean we have already seen this happen with the OKC bombing and more recently, the Austin Tx IRS crash.

My concern is more along the lines, that unethical business practices "could be" happening at airports across the country from smuggling, to illegal Part 135 ops, etc. Regardless if it is Commercial or General Aviation, over-sight *should* be provided to ensure general safety.
Flyinbbd
Flyinbbd 0
Yall that think that TSA should be at all GA airports are more than likely not pilots..... I work at a small GA airport in texas and we have about 10-20 ops a day. Everything from a c-150 to GV. Why should my tax payer money go to some one from TSA to sit at the airport waiting for a GA or Part 135-91 to fly in to check it out. Most of the planes that fly into this airport, are people that come to hunt.....The passangers unload guns and ammo to go hunting with. Why should they be checked by TSA when all they want to do is go hunting...........
yock
Michael Yockey 0
Some of you are far too worried about what *might* happen to you as a result of someone's random malace. Drugs are not the same thing as weapons and making what-if comparisons that bridge the gap between the two is insane.
RobDover
Rob Dover 0
She wouldn't want to crash that GIV and burn up 500lbs of marijuana
cjturner
Chris Turner 0
bravo Rob, then everyone got high!
Flyinbbd.. you are also correct, I work at IAH and it is crazy how many times TSA just drives around looking... OR to put it another way... Drives around wasting time, my tax money, and gas. As long as the current administration has the TSA being run the way it is, we might as well have to carry State Issued Passports to cross state lines either by car, plane, truck, train, boat doesn't matter

just my .02
bbabis
bbabis 0
A very wise man once said, "Anyone willing to trade freedom for security gets neither." Outside of a few posters, it seams that most readers understand this.
bbabis
bbabis 0
A very wise man once said, "Anyone willing to trade freedom for security gets neither." Outside of a few posters, it seams that most readers understand this.
joelr
Joel Rodriguez 0
Another "wise" man once said: "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people and neither do we." - George W. Bush (lol)
JSAvia
Sean James 0
For Joel and Will's sake we might as well have Take Scissors Away regulate all semi trucks, commercial buses, recreational vehicles, trains and boats, heck why not put a TSA checkpoint at the children's school bus stop. Of course you can attempt to regulate the heck out of every possible worst case scenario, but it would bring our economy to a screeching halt. Mattdavis and bbabis addressed the practicality of that. How about regulating fast food restaurants from adding high fructose corn syrup that leads to obesity and tens of thousands of deaths and health problems a year??
kb9uwu
Matt Comerford 0
You guys just wait until Obama takes away our planes! :)
joelr
Joel Rodriguez 0
Last time I drove through Texas, we DO have check points for buses and semi trucks. In fact I have driven through most of the country and these exist in all states to regulate weight and ensure hazardous materials are safely transported on our roads.

Common sense would tell you, we don't need a TSA officer at a bus stop or cross walk, because we already have watchful & concerned parents and cross guards. Duh! ;)

As for President Obama taking away your airplane, come back to Ground Level my friend. He already has Air Force One, a real airplane! :)

We live in a structured and law abiding society to ensure the safety of all, welcome to the United States my friends.
mattdavis
mattdavis 0
Joel, those bus and truck stations exist to collect taxes, not to make sure that you are 'safe.'
joelr
Joel Rodriguez 0
I don't really know how we went from Marijuana Chartered Jets to weigh stations, but...

Weigh Stations are typically operated by the state's Department of Transportation (DOT) or Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in conjunction with the state highway patrol or state police, thus enabling enforcement of applicable laws... I would copy more on safety, weight, taxes, axles, but its irrelevant.

The point is, weigh stations are in place to ensure that appropriate weights and goods are in compliance to travel our roads and interstates to ensure our safety, since we all share these roads together... Oh yea, and to collect taxes. lol

Moving on... I agree with Will, that more over-sight should be "considered" for General Aviation. As we continue to grow and advance, rules and regulations should be reviewed on a more regular basis.
JSAvia
Sean James 0
My mom doesn't hold my hand as I cross the street, just the same way I don't need incompetent TSA agents telling me what I can or cannot bring on my own airplane. Yeah there is people out there who could use a hand crossing the street but your common sense tells you we don't need to regulate that into effect for those few's safety. If the TSA came into GA airports that would end a lifetime of flying for me and travel (ei. Spending money in the economy) that same lifetime of professional and personal flying in which I have never encountered a single security threat.
JSAvia
Sean James 0
My mom doesn't hold my hand as I cross the street, just the same way I don't need incompetent TSA agents telling me what I can or cannot bring on my own airplane. Yeah there is people out there who could use a hand crossing the street but your common sense tells you we don't need to regulate that into effect for those few's safety. If the TSA came into GA airports that would end a lifetime of flying for me and travel (ei. Spending money in the economy) that same lifetime of professional and personal flying in which I have never encountered a single security threat.
JSAvia
Sean James 0
My mom doesn't hold my hand as I cross the street, just the same way I don't need incompetent TSA agents telling me what I can or cannot bring on my own airplane. Yeah there is people out there who could use a hand crossing the street but your common sense tells you we don't need to regulate that into effect for those few's safety. If the TSA came into GA airports that would end a lifetime of flying for me and travel (ei. Spending money in the economy) that same lifetime of professional and personal flying in which I have never encountered a single security threat.
stbernardpass
Jackie Butcher 0
Sadly, we live in a different world now. Things are "a changing". Marshall Law is on the horizon so you may appreciate those little Figures in the TSA uniform. If you have been around several decades you have experienced the importance of regulation.
kb9uwu
Matt Comerford 0
Jackie, I hope you have your emergency food pantry stocked up in your bomb shelter.
kb9uwu
Matt Comerford 0
Jackie, I hope you have your emergency food pantry stocked up in your bomb shelter.
stbernardpass
Jackie Butcher 0
Matt, my bunker is full and stocked. If and when that day comes, do not come knocking on my door. I will direct you to the nearest TSA check point to be cleared first. ;)
rxpilot
rxpilot 0
From the very pretty girl's mug shot, it appears she may have mild glaucoma. Johnny Cochran could get her out of this one. -- Just kidding. It's interesting that she would have paid atleast $16-20,000 to luxury fly hash across the country. Even though "officials" valued the 500 lbs at $500,000. It just seems senseless to tap into luxury. A minivan would hold 13 suitcases. As for TSA, we need to be safe; but free. People fly Business Jets to avoid the humility, hassle, and burden of restrictive security and policies of government and the airlines.
rangerism
joe cashen 0
I think Joel and Will both work for TSA. If the TSA got involved in every GA airport there would no longer be General Aviation. Those Pilots did their job and reported her and she got busted, how could TSA have done a better job???
stbernardpass
Jackie Butcher 0
If Joel works for TSA ,then I work for the IRS about to audit you. :) Oh, I forgot about my part time job with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Seriously, I have seen situations with the TSA when they abuse their power. I do not think there is a simple solution here.
joelr
Joel Rodriguez 0
lol @ Jackie. You are the best. And no, I do not work for TSA. :(

I just feel this is a loophole that allows people to bypass security because they are utilizing a private jet or personal aircraft. I respect everyone's stance/view on this matter though. :)
Jamiesan
Jamiesan 0
Oh come on...get real...some of you people are just fear mongers...this was transportation of plain ole marijuana...all of this terrorist rhetoric (at terrorist around every corner) is self-serving alarmist fear...GA & charter is safer than commercial because it is self regulated as is proven by this arrest...
JSAvia
Sean James 0
Joe made the most important parts of this whole discussion, TSA would kill GA and 1/10 of our GPD, and THE PILOTS DID THEIR SECURITY ROLL AND SHE GOT CAUGHT! Let this be a lesson to anyone else who thinks they can carry drugs/weapons on a private aircraft, think again. One of the biggest benefits of private travel is the level of security provided to those flying. The only sad part is the charter company probably can't take dirty money and is out thousands of dollars.
garymize
Gary Mize 0
Charter companies already have to comply with TSA regs and must have TSA trained ground and in flight agents at every flight. Charter passengers must be cleared against the same "no fly list" as the airlines. The pilots often are the TSA agents for the flight and are as careful and concerned as the TSA staffers at the major airports if not more so. The charter passengers don't have to go through a metal detector but they are the only passengers on the flight so what does that matter. While they are flying on the plane its their private gig. The pilots can carry weapons to put down a hijacker if needed depending on company policy. The pilots (trained as TSA agents just as the real ones are) have the final say on who and what goes on the plane so, in some ways, they have more control than the airlines since they are there making the judgment calls on there own flights instead of some TSA agent in the airport terminal. So, as you can see there are a lot of the same or similar protections in place already. At citizens we can do a lot to police our own country instead of relying of a bunch of government employees to do everything for us.
comanche7wl
Andrew Kriner 0
Dear Mr. Clarke, I don't think you understand and are definitely not an aircraft owner or a pilot. As an aircraft owner we are responsible for what and who is on my plane. This operator did his job and questioned something strange. That operator did it right. I do not charter. I use my plane like a car. TSA cannot check me out at my whim to fly. Too much BIG BROTHER especially with the SOCIALIST Obama. We can police ourselves, thank you.
smokechaser11
smokechaser11 0
I think there should be a TSA agent posted in every airport bathroom to ensure that the sheeple don't use too much paper, and only flush the toilet once !
clarkewil
Will Clarke 0
Joel has stated my position far more eloquently than I. My point, similar to Joel's, is that there is a security gap which allows people to by-pass security screening by chartering a private aircraft. That is it. I saw nothing in the article which lead me to believe the charter operator was implicated in this, and I saw nothing to indicate the charter operator cooperated with law enforcement. To the contrary...the plane was allowed to depart Van Nuys, and arrive at its final destination in Ohio. The defendant in this case admitted to three previous trips, so I don't place much weight on the arguments here that charter operators are ever vigillant in what flys on their aircraft. In this case they either turned a blind eye, didn't care, or were in on it. I respect everyone else's opinion on this topic, but I don't think anyone is disputing the fact that passengers, or cargo are allowed to fly uninspected on charter aircraft unless the charter operator, or aircraft owner takes it upon themself to do so. If you are relying on running names against a "No Fly" list as your ONLY means of security, you're doing the very minimum to ensure your safety.
garymize
Gary Mize 0
So What!!! Let people fly where they want, how they want and with whom and with whatever they want if the airplane is theirs or a private charter!!! WHO CARES if they transported their illegal contraband via an airplane, Trailways bus, car or bicycle. The issue is the contraband not the mode of travel...you and your other nanny Obama followers need to get over it and leave the country alone or just leave the country!!!
kb9uwu
Matt Comerford 0
jesh, this is like reading the comments from anything linked to the drudge report...
rmust3
Thomas Musticchi 0
Mr. Clarke (clarkewil), You and others like you in this country amaze me with your tunnel vision. It is not General Aviation and for the most part Business Aviation that is a threat to this country. It is the open, porous borders we have with both Canada and Mexico. Believe me the people who want to do this country harm have taken due notice. The next attack which takes a large number of lives , which will come, will not be by the aforementioned aircraft but from another venue. And I assure you the open borders problem will have played a large part of our enemies planning.
rangerism
joe cashen 0
some people will never understand
busterscv
Buster Downey 0
It appears that the marijuana was found and the woman arrensted without the need for more regulation or wasting money on TSA types at GA airports. Most importantly, we don't need to give up more freedom in exchange for security that can't be guaranteed.

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