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Loaded handgun found in carry-on luggage at Central Coast airport, TSA says

Security caught a man attempting to smuggle a loaded handgun onto a plane at Santa Barbara Municipal Airport on Tuesday, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

TSA officers found the gun in the man’s carry-on luggage during routine X-ray screening at about 4:50 a.m., TSA Public Affairs Manager Lorie Dankers said in a news release.

“The firearm, a loaded 9 mm Beretta 92FS, was in the man’s carry-on bag, along with a magazine loaded with 14 rounds of ammunition,” Dankers wrote in the release.

Santa Barbara airport police then removed the firearm from the man’s luggage, and local law enforcement escorted the man out of the building, Dankers said.

The passenger had an airplane ticket to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Arizona, according to Dankers.

The TSA could impose a civil penalty on the passenger for firearm possession, Dankers said, noting that fines start at $2,050 and increase to the statutory minimum of $14,950 per violation.

“TSA evaluates each incident on a case-by-case basis,” Dankers wrote in the release.

This is the first time this year a firearm has been found in luggage at Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, Dankers said.

TSA officers found two guns at security checkpoints in 2022, Dankers said.

“Today’s firearm discovery illustrates why TSA officers must remain vigilant as they screen one bag, one passenger at a time,” Anita Minaei, TSA federal security director at the Santa Barbara airport, said in the release.