A Carbon County man has been charged for checking in an explosive device inside his luggage at Lehigh Valley International Airport for a flight bound for Florida, court documents say.
Mark Muffley, of Lansford, Pennsylvania, has been charged with possession of an explosive in an airport and possessing, or attempting to place, or attempted to have placed an explosive or incendiary device on an aircraft at Lehigh Valley International Airport Monday, according to an affidavit.
On Monday, Feb. 27, the Transportation Safety Administration contacted the FBI for assistance after identifying what they believed to be an explosive in a suitcase checked in by Muffley on Flight 201 bound for Orlando Sanford International Airport in Florida.
According to the affidavit, Muffley checked in a rolling suitcase at the airline desk and a baggage tag was placed on the luggage.
But, while the baggage was screened by TSA, an alarm alerted the presence of suspicious items. TSA then notified the Lehigh Northampton Airport Authority Police Department, who then contacted the FBI and other special agents to examine the contents of the baggage.
According to the affidavit, SA Jared Witmier has over 19 years of experience and has been a certified public safety bomb technician for about three years.
Witmier x-rayed the circular compound that was hidden in the lining of the baggage and concluded it contained a granular type of powder concealed within the wax paper of the plastic wrap. The granular type of powder is suspected to be a mixture of flash powder and dark granular that are used in commercial-grade fireworks.
The special agent also determined a “quick fuse” and “hobby fuse” were attached to the compound. The affidavit says that powder inside the device is susceptible to ignite from heat and friction and posed a significant risk to the aircraft and passengers.
FBI and local law enforcement bomb technicians determined that the compound recovered was a live explosive device.
The baggage also contained a can of butane, a lighter, a pipe with a white powder residue, a wireless drill with cordless batteries and two GFCI outlets taped together with black tape, according to the affidavit.
After TSA discovered the device, Muffley was paged over LVI’s public address system requesting to report to the airport’s security desk at 11:40 a.m. Five minutes later, he was captured on security cameras leaving the airport at the lower-level exit.
The investigation forced the immediate area of the airport to evacuate.
The FBI arrested Muffley at his residence Monday night. He remains in custody.
Muffley’s probable cause hearing and detention bail hearing will be held Thursday at 1:30 p.m. in Allentown with him attending via video conference.