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

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.

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.

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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