Body Armor Suspect Pleads Not Guilty to Federal Charge

A man was arrested in October with body armor and a smoke grenade after arriving on a flight at LAX from Japan

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Mona Edwards
    Courtroom sketches show 28-year-old Yongda Huang Harris, who was arrested Oct. 5, 2012 on suspicion of illegally transporting a smoke grenade through LAX.

    A schoolteacher accused of wearing body armor and carrying luggage with an arsenal that included a smoke grenade on a flight to Los Angeles from Japan has pleaded not guilty to a federal charge of making false statements on customs papers.

    Yongda Huang Harris, 28, of Boston, faces federal charges in connection with falsely stating on a customs declaration form that he had only visited China and that he only had $100 in goods from abroad before he arrived in L.A. in October.

    Feds Probe Traveler's In-Air Arsenal

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    Mike Karn, with LA Pilots Association, says the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) works with other countries to make sure they comply with strict luggage restrictions for the entering the U.S., but it’s also up to passengers to point out suspicious objects or behavior. The Department of Homeland Security is investigating how a traveler managed to smuggle a smoke grenade, body bags and a hatchet, among other items, in his checked luggage while traveling from Korea to Boston via LAX. Agents stopped the 28 year old after they noticed him wearing a bulletproof vest and flame retardant pants through security. Stephanie Elam reports from LAX for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Oct. 10, 2012. (Published Thursday, Oct 11, 2012)

    He had visited Japan for about 14 days and he had more than $100 in goods from abroad, according to the indictment.

    The charge supercedes an earlier allegation that he was transporting hazardous materials in connection with his Oct. 5 arrest at LAX.

    Man Charged With Carrying Smoke Grenade Through LAX

    [LA] Man Charged With Carrying Smoke Grenade Through LAX
    Yongda Huang Harris – clad in a bullet-proof vest, knee pads and flame-retardant pants underneath a trench coat – was arrested last week at LAX when agents discovered a smoke grenade in his checked luggage among a hatchet, body bags and lead-filled billy clubs. The 28-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen of Chinese descent was charged on Tuesday with one count of transporting hazardous material. Beverly White reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Oct. 9, 2012 (Published Wednesday, Oct 10, 2012)

    Agents said they found him transporting a smoke grenade in his checked luggage after arriving on a flight from Japan via Korea, according to court documents.

    He was wearing body armor, flame-retardant legging covers, and knee pads under a trench coat, officials said.

    A search of Harris' luggage turned up a smoke grenade, billy clubs, a baton, a face respirator, knives, a hatchet, body bags, and other items, according to court documents.

    If detonated, the smoke grenade could have filled the cabin of the plane with smoke and ignited a fire, authorities said. The grenade fell under the United Nations' explosives shipping classification, meaning it is prohibited on passenger aircraft, court documents said.

    He’s expected to appear in court again on Dec. 17.

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