Guns, knives, explosives flying into South Fla. airports

TSA data obtained by Local 10 shows rising number of weapons at security checkpoints

MIAMI – Threatening weapons, including guns, knives and explosives, have been flying into South Florida airport security checkpoints like never before.

"Are you surprised?" Local 10's investigative reporter Ross Palombo asked the Transportation Security Administration.

"I am surprised by some of the things," TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz said.

After reviewing data exclusively obtain by Local 10, it appears the number of checkpoint catches at two airports has suddenly taken off.

At Miami International Airport, agents found 24 guns last year. That's more than double found the year before that, when there were 11. Passengers packed ammunition 546 times last year, which was an increase of 82. There were also two more incidents of explosives being found, 2,267 more knives and 23 more box cutters found in 2013.

"Is that concerning?" Palombo asked of the increase in guns.

"The doubling of guns does concern us," Koshetz said.

At Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, agents said they found 45 guns in 2013, compared to 42 the year before. There were also 14 incidents of explosives, 1,081 more knives and eight more box cutters found in 2013.

"Should we be concerned?" Palombo asked.

"No, we're keeping you safe," Koshetz said. "We're finding those items."

Those aren't the only items they've found. The TSA showed Local 10 a large bucket filled to the brim in just a few days with items that passengers tried to take aboard airplanes. Inside, there was a bow and arrow, construction tools and various sharp or blunt objects.

"It's scary -- makes you scared for your life," one passenger said when learning of all of this.

"It's terrible," another passenger said. "I can't imagine."

Many passengers said they never imagined that, more than a dozen years since the twin towers fell on Sept. 11, these numbers would be rising.

"That's kind of frightening," one passenger said.

"Should travelers be worried?" Palombo asked.

"No, because we're here and we're finding them," Koshetz said.

The TSA said its number of "finds" may actually be up because TSA agents are actually better at searching. Agents, for example, found a gun sealed inside of a speaker with the help of high-tech scanning devices.

"It's concerning, but we're finding the items," Koshetz said. "So, we know our officers are trained and expert at finding these items."

"Are you just grateful that they're finding these things, or does it bother you that they're there to find?" Palombo asked one man traveling with his family.

"I don't think there's anything we can do to stop it," Wade Garner said. "(But) I'm not going to live in fear. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen."