US soldier nabbed boarding flight with explosives

PHOENIX Fri Jul 15, 2011 6:20am EDT

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Police in Arizona have arrested a U.S. soldier after he attempted to board a flight to Los Angeles with a small amount of high-velocity plastic explosive in his baggage, authorities said on Thursday.

U.S. Army Private First Class Christopher Eric Wey, 19, was arrested on Wednesday after he tried to board a United Airlines flight to Los Angeles from Yuma, Arizona, the U.S. Attorney's office for Arizona said.

Transportation Security Administration officers detected explosives in his baggage during security screening at Yuma International Airport, officials said.

A subsequent search found a half ounce of C4 explosive hidden in a tobacco can inside one of the bags. Wey was detained for investigation and interviewed by FBI agents.

"TSA employees are on the front lines every day, working to mitigate threats and keep the travelling public safe," TSA Administrator John Pistole said in a statement.

"This incident demonstrates the abilities of our highly trained officers and cutting-edge technology," he said.

The complaint says that Wey stole the C4 while attending an explosive training course. Authorities found no evidence that he intended any harm with the small amount of explosives in his possession.

A conviction for attempting to carry an explosive on an aircraft and transportation of a stolen explosive carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)

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