Man arrested at airport with hidden boxcutters, scissors

Monday, September 30, 2002

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- A Bulgarian national was arrested Sunday at Atlantic City International Airport after federal screeners found a pair of scissors embedded in a bar of soap and two boxcutters in a lotion bottle in his backpack.

Nikolay Volodicv Dzhonev, 21, was charged with possession of a prohibited weapon. Egg Harbor Township police said Dzhonev was being held on $100,000 bail.

Authorities said the man was a student from Bulgaria with a summer visa allowing him to work at an Atlantic City-area convenience store.

He was the last passenger to pass through screening Sunday for a flight from Atlantic City to Myrtle Beach, S.C., Transportation Security Administration spokesman Robert Johnson said.

When his backpack went through the X-ray machine, screeners spotted the scissors and pulled him aside, he said. A search of the backpack turned up the scissors, embedded in a bar of soap, and the boxcutters hidden in a lotion bottle, Johnson said.

"The concern was there may have been some effort to conceal them," Johnson said.

He said the fact that the man's one-way ticket was purchased over the Internet in August also raised suspicion.

The man told authorities he packed the items that way to keep them from damaging anything else in his backpack, Johnson said.

He said he bought the Spirit Airlines ticket so he could visit a friend in South Carolina before returning to Bulgaria.

"We're proud of the fact that our screeners caught it," Johnson said. "Here's an example of the federal screeners doing their job keeping these items off the plane, giving law enforcement a chance to sort through it."

Spirit Airlines spokeswoman Laura Bennett said the flight carrying 84 passengers departed on time, and the arrest did not affect operations.

Travelers were relieved a suspect had been caught, but said the incident wasn't unduly disturbing.

"I'm here to gamble and I play the odds," said Hunter Boylan, 56, of Boone, N.C., who was visiting Atlantic City for the weekend. "And the odds against being in another air disaster (after Sept. 11) are pretty good."

Atlantic City International is a small regional facility which handles about 1 million passengers a year, although totals were down last year -- to about 829,000 -- in the wake of the terror attacks.

Its main carrier is Spirit Airlines, which serves resort communities in South Carolina and Florida.

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