A New Jersey felon attempted to board a flight late last year with an AR-15 rifle, a Taser and a fake U.S. Marshal badge, according to a federal complaint that was unsealed Monday.
Seretse Clouden has been charged with unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition by a convicted felon and fraudulent possession of an identification document and authentication feature of the U.S. after the Dec. 30 incident at Newark Liberty International Airport.
“During routine screening of checked luggage that was destined for Fort Lauderdale, Transportation Security Administration agents discovered two .40 caliber Glock magazines, each containing fifteen rounds of .40 caliber ammunition,” the five-page complaint read. “A further search of that luggage revealed a ballistic vest carrier that displayed the words ‘Deputy Marshal.'”
The U.S. Marshals Service confirmed that Clouden has never been never employed by the agency, the document stated.
Following the discovery, agents responded to the gate Clouden’s flight was scheduled to depart from. Clouden told officers he didn’t have law enforcement credentials or firearms ID cards from any state.
His luggage was taken off the aircraft, and upon further inspection, officers found an AR-15 rifle, a .40 caliber handgun, a Taser, a spring-loaded knife, an expandable baton, a .308 caliber rifle and “United States Marshal” credentials with his name and picture on it along with a badge.
His attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.
Clouden plead guilty to unlawful possession of a weapon in 2016.
The charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm carries a maximum sentence of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000, while fraudulent possession of an identification document can carry a maximum sentence of 15 years, a fine, or both.
So far in 2023, more than 800 firearms have been intercepted at airport checkpoints.
“It’s absolutely not acceptable for firearms to be anywhere near checkpoints,” TSA spokesperson R. Carter Langston said. “There is a legally permissible way to bring firearms in checked baggage, but you have to be legally able to carry a firearm in your jurisdiction, declare it with the airline and pack it properly in a hard-sided and locked case.”
Last year, the TSA set a record by intercepting more than 6,500 firearms at airport checkpoints across the country. The weapons were found in 262 airports and 88% were loaded.
Donna Mendell contributed.