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US probe how teen travelled with bullets

KINGSTON — The case of an American teenage girl who was acquitted of ammunition charges here earlier this month has triggered an investigation by the Transportation Security Administration into security systems at two airports in the US that failed to detect three live rounds in her carry-on bag.

At the same time, the TSA has decided against preventing the teen – 18-year-old Casey Felpel – from flying again after her parents wrote to their congresswoman protesting the impending action, according to Clayton Morgan, the Jamaican attorney who represented Felpel at her trial in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate’s Court.

Morgan said TSA staff at the two airports – Philadelphia National and Miami International – who were on duty the day that Felpel travelled to Jamaica were taken off the job during the probe, but have since returned to work.

The Observer sought a confirmation of the investigation from the TSA, but was directed to the US Embassy in Kingston.

When the embassy was contacted, it responded by saying that the “TSA’s investigation is ongoing, and federal agencies do not comment on ongoing investigations”.

The investigation was conducted after the authorities learnt that the teenager had passed through both airports on June 24 with three live R-P 444 rounds, which were inadvertently left in her carryon bag by her father, a big game hunter.

Felpel, a part-time student and cashier from Akron, Pennsylvania, was among a group of 28 Mennonite Church volunteers who came to Jamaica as guests of the Salvation Army in Mandeville.

The group, which was on a nine-day work and cultural exchange, had departed Philadelphia National Airport for Kingston via Miami International Airport.

At her trial on July 6, Felpel – who was charged with illegal possession of ammunition and attempting to export ammunition – testified that she checked in three pieces of luggage which she packed herself; two of which were knapsacks which she checked as carry-ons. All three pieces were screened by security personnel at the airport prior to departure.

Upon arrival in Miami, all passengers disembarked the aircraft but remained in the intransit section of the airport. They reboarded the same aircraft after a delay of approximately one hour. (Observer)

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