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Man on flight from Japan held in LA after smoke grenade, leg irons, body bags found in luggage

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86 Comments
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And this wasn't found at Narita because...?!?

(Side note: I go through LAX on my trips to and from Japan. I don't even take anything that customs would be interested in, much less BP officers.)

5 ( +12 / -7 )

How did he get on the plane? It'll be interesting to see follow-ups to this report.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Some people really go overboard on their Halloween costume.

11 ( +15 / -4 )

So the way I read this, he got on a flight from Japan (don't say where) and flew to LAX with all this crap!

Did I not just read where Japan was taking a more stringent approach to screening passengers?

"Sir, please step over here for a detailed pat down, sweet bullet proof vest, have a nice flight".

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Where did he even get this stuff in Japan?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Hope this doesn't get too much media attention. They'll probably respond with strip searches for all foreigners.

13 ( +13 / -3 )

Wow - how did he get through Narita ( or other J airport ) security with a bulletproof vest and flame resistant pants ?..and his luggage got through with all that crazy gear? Here comes the the " moushiwake arimasen , we will launch a study group and discuss the security breach. If anyone is found to have a token responsibility we will issue a reprimand letter and perhaps even a 3 months 10% paycut ". We ask for your understanding "

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Okinawamike exactly what I was thinking.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

So they did not ask him about the grenades and bulletproof underpants and all that stuff in Narita? How?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

And they bust my balls over a tube of tooth paste???

17 ( +20 / -4 )

So did the flight originate in Japan? The person in question is Chinese, it says on other news. Granted, in some parts of Boston, a bulltetproof vest, knives, and smoke grenades are necessary items for a nighttime walk, so I'm a little sympathetic.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Some Narita staff are gonna have to do some serious knee crawl bowing for this one!

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The flight left from Kansai International Airport.

@ matthew simon,

Ever been to Akihabara? I have seen stuff like this on sale, don't remember seeing a hand grenade, I must admit, but the other stuff and more is readily available, as long as one is not on a tourist visa.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Well except for the bulletproof vest and flame-retardant pants, neither of which are particularly illegal to own, or wear on an airplane, everything went through in checked luggage, so this has little to do with how pre-boarding screening of passengers is handled. None of this stuff sounds as though it would trigger an alarm in a bomb-screening machine, and maybe not even in an x-ray of the luggage, so unless they are opening and examining by hand every piece of luggage that gets checked (and even the TSA doesn't do that), I can see how this stuff made it onto the airplane, especially if there were no guns in the mix.

More to the point, what had he intended to do with all this stuff??

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Biohazard 6 costume?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

According to Homeland Security Harris' luggage contained a pyrotechnic smoke grenade, three leather-coated billy clubs, a collapsible baton, a full-face respirator, various knives, a hatchet, body bags, a biohazard suit, handcuffs, leg irons and a device to repel dogs.

Weird.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Cosplay, I would guess?

2 ( +6 / -4 )

This ding bat Chinese dude from Boston sounds like a real character, my guess, he wanted to kill many people, go down in flames, make a big scandal in the news etc..thank god/s he was stopped before he could do anything evil with all the crazy things he go on to the plane.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

So how did he get through Kansai security??? Bullet proof vest, flame retardant pants, trench coat......and they don't notice this guy for extra screening???

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Security at Kansai Airport has always been at best sub-par. All that said, it's pretty amazing this guy got through all the same.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Here i was, stressing about including a 25cm kitchen knife in my checked luggage. I thought that they X-rayed all checked luggage, going in, and out?

Its funny that out of all those items, only the smoke grenade was illegal.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Wow. Nice to know the Japanese airport security are useless...

How did he get through the security checks with body armor on? Kevlar? Or was there plates in it too?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

if he's not carrying any weapons, why would kansai airport need to interrogate this guy? so he's gonna blow up the plane with his magical bullet proof vest? give me a break.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Wasn't the info about the departure airport added afterwards? I didn't think it mentioned an airport when I read it early this morning.

Outside of the pyrotechnic smoke canister, everything he had was of no threat to anyone when checked. What could you possibly do with a body bag to threaten a flight?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Which airline? Might want to give them a pass, too,

1 ( +2 / -1 )

And some people here said that there was no chance of terrorists coming from Japan... Looks like they will be rushing to put those new gate integrated bomb detectors to work very soon.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Shopping for these goods is pretty easy in Japan.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

It's times like this when I am thankful that most criminals are so stupid. I'm guessing most of the stuff, this guy was busted with, could be picked up pretty easily in the US. No need to bring the stuff from Japan. At any rate, I'm glad this guy was caught before any of his plans came to fruition.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Hang your head in shame Japan, you let this onto a flight!

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Wow!-on my last trip to n.y. via narita the lighters i bought as souveniers were taken-and that wasn't even carry on luggage! I guess I'll be traveling via Freindly Kansai Airport,where the customers always right!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

As shirokuma pointed out, there's no problem with the vest or pants(probably "safer" but less comfy), and the other stuff was in his checked bag. Only the smoke grenade is a real issue. As a diver, I often pack my diving knife in my gear bag which is always checked baggage.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

if he's not carrying any weapons, why would kansai airport need to interrogate this guy? so he's gonna blow up the plane with his magical bullet proof vest? give me a break.

You would be perfectly fine with someone getting on a plane wearing a bullet proof vest?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

how could they tell his pants were flame retardant?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

fds, just thinking the same thing. Surely all clothing should be to some extent flame retardant.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Customs Official Senpai to kouhai.

"Quick go get that guy with the toothpaste! Great, that's the 5th one we got this morning".

Kouhai : Which one?

Senpai: the one behind the guy with the bullet proof vest and all that funny stuff in his luggage!

Kouhai. Wakarimashita! hmpf Another gaijin with toothpaste! The cheek!

They need a Hogan's Heroes type show in Japan.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Bullet proof vest is not illegal. Nor is fi retardant pants. A bullet proof vest has not metal in it depending on the material used to stop bullets so it would not set off a metal detector.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

And I was afraid of bringing wine in my luggage ;))

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I thought checked luggage was also screened. His bag had knives, a baton, a hatchet, etc. Airport security are trained to look out for such shapes and materials right? Praise to the people who used common sense and apprehended this guy before something bad happened.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Dwight Schrute?!?!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Probie: Yes? Even this guy with all his crazy stuff wasn't some terrorist since he didn't actually DO anything on the flight. He just has funny shopping habits (maybe a survivalist).

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@Probie: Yes? Even this guy with all his crazy stuff wasn't some terrorist since he didn't actually DO anything on the flight. He just has funny shopping habits (maybe a survivalist).

Yeah, but people who would wear a bullet proof vest on a plane are either a nutbag survivalist; or someone who might have reason to wear one (someone who might get shot by police= terrorist). Whichever, I wouldn't want them on a plane with me. Anyone who thinks that they should wear one, is obviously crazy and shouldn't be allowed to be on a pressurized tube of metal flying through the air at hundreds of miles an hour.

They should have questioned why he was wearing that stuff- it must have looked odd even if it didn't trigger the alarm- bullet proof vests aren't svelte, even kevlar ones, and that should have brought on a check of his luggage.

Anyway, forget the vest. The scary thing is that the ground crew didn't notice the arsenal in his suitcase.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

It's illegal in the U.S. for a civilian to wear body armour without a permit.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

He confused ironman and anpanman.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

In Germany they confiscate violins, in America, I had my sax taken (This is a sonic Harmonic Disruptor! Not Allowed!) But Japan? Cool! A transplanted North Korean can carry semi explosive devices...onto the plane! How cool is that? Very! ;->

0 ( +2 / -2 )

jojo_in_japanOct. 10, 2012 - 11:50AM JST

It's illegal in the U.S. for a civilian to wear body armour without a permit.

That is a very false statement. It is not illegal in the US unless you are convicted of a violent felony. However, it is illegal to wear body armor while committing a crime in several states.

However, it's a bit more tricky, as California overturned the federal ban (http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/state&id=7204095).

As such, it was perfectly legal for him to wear body armor within LA, regardless of if he had a permit.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Planning a spectacular at the airport when he got his checked baggage back?

In Japan, he could have had the vest in hand baggage. Nothing else harmful in there. Maybe it was even noticed in Japan and they informed the US since he was a US citizen and heading their way. The US Feds then intercept him on home soil.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Robert Dykes

Bullet proof vest is not illegal. Nor is fi retardant pants. A bullet proof vest has not metal in it depending on the material >used to stop bullets so it would not set off a metal detector.

Indeed there was nothing much he could have done until he got his luggage in LA. Even TSA don't verify every single checked-in luggage. What I'm really curious about is what he was intending to do in the US with all that gear

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Waiting to hear Yongda Harris's (excellent name, btw) story. No mention in the story that he is from Korea, north or south.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Bullet *resistant vests and fire resistant pants are in themselves not illegal to own. If I wanted to put on a knife/bullet resistant vest right now (and considering all the knive incidents in Japan...) there's nothing illegal about it. Neither will itset off a medal detector if one walked through.

The other items as indicated were in his bag, which was chcked luggage. Many of the items he had in his checked luggage is even admitted by the US TSA as legal items to transport as checked items. There's nothing illegal in owning handcuffs, a gasmask or even a full fledged biohazard suit. Knifes are also permissible as checked luggage (and in US domestic flights, you can have unloaded guns, again in checked luggage (domestic)).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So, the new pat down regulations are in force and working well?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Do you people not read this story? Second line says the flight left from Kansai Airport.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

What airline flies non-stop to L.A. from Kansai? I always have to travel from Tokyo, Hawaii, or San Francisco.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The story was updated after the initial comments were made.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

CBS says:

"The 28 year old was in the Southland for a stopover as he flew from Kansai, Japan, through Inchon, Korea, and then LA on his way to Boston."

"Agents became suspicious of Harris, a naturalized US citizen of Chinese descent, when they noticed him wearing what appeared to be ballistic gear, according to court documents."

It's possible he picked up the stuff in Seoul? Or...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You know, even if you are wearing plain clothes the TSA will have an excuse to strip you down to your socks, squeeze your genitals, do cavities inspections, check your bottle of water bought at the airport. Basically have your way with you; all in the name of so called "security"

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

My kids in Australian high school today asked me 'sir, could you buy a crossbow in Japan legally?' I said yes, and swords, knives, pepper spray, fireworks, and all manner of martial/ military gear.' They were gobsmacked.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Unbelivable, each time I leave Tokyo at Narita they check my luggage and once even found a second lighter I forgot to remove. How can this happen?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Lilith, try Kansai next time.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This Yongda guy sounds like a real nutter.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

He's leaving Japan, NOT our problem anymore. Next......................

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

JMan, every time I fly out of Japan they open my luggage and search it even before I can check it. I must look more suspicious than I thought.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

For actual security, you arent trying to simply enforce laws or rules that happen to be in place at that particular time. It seems reasonable that terrorists will constantly change tactics and often work within the system to carry out an attack. Actual security involves checking further when something seems peculiar - "TPO" is common sense. Now this guy is probably some kind of survivalist or something, no threat to anyone, just compensating for emotional issues. BUT, he shouldve been checked out in Kansai Airport and maybe Seoul, too. While it may be legal to purchase & transport this stuff in Japan (and elsewhere), it is certainly a reasonable question to look someone in the eye and ask why they have that kind of gear and why they are wearing or carrying body armor in their bags prior to boarding an int`l flight. If he is wearing it, he should be looking chubby, and in hand carry it would show up as a rather dense materiel in the x-ray. I would definitely notify the air crew if I noticed someone with gear like that, it simply is out of place.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Seoul to Kansai to LAX?? My guess Korean Airlines, but I could be wrong, we need more information!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How on earth did Yuang get through Kansai security with all that gear ! ? THAT is frightening !!!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

They'll probably respond with strip searches for all foreigners.

Yes, as the pat downs just won't be enough.

Poor security. I think we can all agree that airport security in Japan is pretty poor. I can get through metal detectors here with my belt and bracelets on where as in Canada, China, Malaysia... I have to remove them and have them go through the scanner. What else has gotten through that we don't know about.

I don't know why some are jumping on his nationality. It doesn't matter if he's Chinese or Chinese American. A nutter is a nutter regardless of passport.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

And a lighter that I happened to forget which was in the outside pocket of my duffel bag..before boarding my name was called as I was in the toilet..they got my bag from which I have checked in earlier to double check, I told them that i didn't even know there was a lighter inside it...anyways, no problem and was able to board after the screening....and this guy got away with all those contraband??? LOL!!!Extremes, Japan does it again...another for the comics!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Oops. typo.. "So much for reinforcing misinformation that to the masses..." should read "So much for reinforcing misinformation to the masses..." sorry. Can't find links, just ask. Or you're not bothering to do so.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Another proof they do the pat down and harassing of honest travelers as a show... but they check nothing.

Kansai International Airport in Osaka

That's where they robbed me at least a dozen of cheap mini swiss-knives (those that don't cut), as many nail clippers and in the recent years, shampoos, skin and hair lotions, mosquito repellent, bottles of mineral water, even toothpaste, which is so dangerous...

Incheon, South Korea,

Last time I transited there, they confiscated my cookie cutters. Another time, they took me all my food from Singapore. Both times, they were not even supposed to reopen checked luggage, I just changed planes, but they made us pick and recheck.

knives, body bags, a hatchet, a collapsible baton, a biohazard suit, a full-face respirator, billy clubs, a respirator, handcuffs, leg irons and a device to repel dogs...The smoke grenade

So that's OK to flight Kansai and Incheon... well, let's edit Xmas omiyage list. My sister wanted a face mask for the pollen allergy season, my parents said the neighbor's dogs were painful, my aunt is a fashionista and the biohaz suit is so hip... Smoke grenade is perfect for New Year night.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

A friend of mine was almost arrested for leaving FAKE brass knuckles in his carry-on. Maybe this guy paid off security somehow to get through??

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

//You would be perfectly fine with someone getting on a plane wearing a bullet proof vest?

Yes, it's not a weapon. I have taken a (really cheap and nasty) katana through Narita, and unlike Kill Bill, they wouldn't let me take it on as hand-luggage, I was shocked I can tell you. Tarantino you big usotske.

Generally all kinds of weird stuff gets taken on planes, I used to hang around with some oil workers in the Middle East and one of them had to bring a sonar probe on the plane, which looks like exactly like an air-to-air missile...one other person I met worked for an unnamed courier company at an airport and a customer, presumably a medical person, had come to collect the human head...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Body bag? Smoke grenade? He was looking to do tons of damages. Or maybe we misunderstood his motive..could be a worker for some company. lol

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The smoke grenade was subsequently X-rayed by the Los Angeles Police Department’s bomb squad. Officers said the device fell into a category that is prohibited on board passenger aircraft by the United Nations.

This is what caused the concern. As long as the other stuff was in his checked baggage, he was within the law. The real question should be, how does one get a smoke bomb in Japan? Japan is tight with just owning the bulets for a gun, how does one get a smoke bomb.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

He is american but what is his ethnicity.. Korean or Japanese ..?he is not Arab right

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Kansai International Airport security is not just lax. It is stupid. When I go through security there my camera bag is invariably sent through the scanner twice. I few times I have had to open my bag to show these people its contents. They have even opened my fountain pens to see if they really were fountain pens. But they cannot tell a smoke grenade from a carrot.

It was unclear if any Japanese laws were broken since authorities there didn’t discover what was in Harris’ luggage, and therefore haven’t seen it.

Hi, ho, the guy had a smoke grenade. Just because they didn't discover the smoke grenade does not make the presence of the thing in the guy's luggage legal. Japanese cops are also stupid. They should at least be investigating where and how this guy got that toy.

Every time I return to Japan I have to go through the fingerprint / photo machine and read the posters that say they are watching for terrorists--meaning all foreigners. That whole process is useless to begin with and it doubly useless because the people who are supposed to be protecting us from terrorists are morons.

If Kansai's airport security can be so concerned about my Leicas and fountain pens, why did they not care about a suitcase full of the stuff Harris was carrying? Why did no one care what he was wearing under his trench coat, which he must have taken off to pass through security?

Maybe if Harris was carrying a Mont Blanc 149 they would have nailed him.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

But they cannot tell a smoke grenade from a carrot.

Japanese cops are also stupid. They should at least be investigating where and how this guy got that toy.

Every time I return to Japan I have to go through the fingerprint / photo machine and read the posters that say they are watching for terrorists--meaning all foreigners. That whole process is useless to begin with and it doubly useless because the people who are supposed to be protecting us from terrorists are morons.

Why do you keep coming back here?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Presto! Great question! but seriously, is Kansai international that bad??

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What an amazing 'shipment' of prohibited or close to prohibited items uncovered in LA that had not even aroused the slight interest from the Kansai security checkpoint ?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Since the stuff was in checked luggage and not carry on it might have gotten through screening, although I'm surprised that it did. But what on earth was this guy going to do with it? That's what I'd like to know.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Anyone here who has made casual remarks that it's fine to be wearing ballistic gear on an international flight coming into the USA should just go ahead and try it from now on. I can assure you that either your fellow passengers on that 6-12 hour flight, flight crew or US agents will likely identify you and have you subsequently detained for extended questioning. Such vests could be armed with new generations of plastic or flammable explosives if they were ever allowed on board.

Wearing such gear will likely be added to future lists used by TSA and US Customs agents, as well as other nations, to screen passengers entering the country. There is no rational excuse to be wearing ballistic gear on a flight unless you are expecting trouble, and then fellow passengers as well as the authorities have a right to know why. This is not a free speech or right to bear arms issue in any sense--But go ahead and press the issue if you want to waste your own time.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The point is how was this person having chinese name with an american surname was able to pass Kansai (Osaka) customs security checks.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm not sure what the point of the article is at all...he had a smoke grenade, I agree as carry on luggage that is potentially dangerous, He's wearing fireproof pants, who cares?

//such vests could be armed with new generations of plastic or flammable explosives

That would be a strange strategy, I will board a plane wearing something very conspicuous to distract people from the dangerous stuff I have concealed in the errr, very conspicuous item I am wearing.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

people , do not be naive,,, he flew to incheon , SK (duh) with an American Passport , he can get out buy or get anything and put it on his bags, anyways,, this is just a news to increase japan soso TSA , Peace!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Kansai airport police said they were not investigating and have not been asked to do so.

Obviously not, since you guys are the ones who screwed up. Bulletproof armor on and this guys didn't notice anything!? Smoke grenade in the suitcase!? Wow!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Wow...talk about a lead pipe and a blow torch...someone did this guy wrong in a serious way

0 ( +0 / -0 )

people , do not be naive,,, he flew to incheon , SK (duh) with an American Passport , he can get out buy or get anything and put it on his bags, anyways,, this is just a news to increase japan soso TSA , Peace!

The news said it was just a transfer, so he would be inside the airport an Incheon all the time. Do they sell smoke grenades and bullet proof vests at the duty free stores in there now?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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