As we’ve mentioned before, it’s perfectly legal to fly with your guns. You have to notify the airline ahead of time, secure them unloaded in a locked, hard-sided case, and treat them as checked baggage — but you can do it. People do it all the time. If you get caught with undeclared guns in your checked baggage, though, that can be a problem. Especially if your bags also contain fake law enforcement identification. A lesson one New Jersey man recently learned the hard way.
Yesterday, the District of New Jersey announced that New Jersey man Seretse Clouden was arrested at the Newark airport while waiting to board a flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Agents from the Transportation Security Administration had been doing routine screenings of checked baggage and discovered that one of his bags contained two Glock magazines containing 15 rounds of .40 ammunition, as well as a bulletproof vest that said “Deputy Marshall.”
When agents checked his other bags, they found “an ASP expandable baton, a spring loaded knife, a taser, a .40 caliber Glock 22 handgun, a .308 caliber DPMS Panther Arms rifle, and one 5.56 caliber AR-15 rifle, which meets the definition of a machine gun.” If that had been all they found, that would have been one thing. Perhaps he didn’t know the proper process for traveling with firearms. And it’s not like he tried to sneak all that stuff through security in a carry-on.
But that’s not all the agents found. They also discovered “‘United States Marshal’ credentials, bearing Clouden’s name and photograph, and a ‘United States Marshal’ badge.” And according to the United States Marshals Service, Clouden does not and never has worked there.
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This also isn’t the first time Clouden has been arrested. According to the complaint filed by Federal Bureau of Investigation Task Force Officer Christopher Granato, in 2016, Clouden was convicted of unlawful possession of a weapon. He has now 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 United States.”
The first charge comes with a maximum potential sentence of 15 years in prison, while the second comes with a maximum of five years and prison and a $250,000 fine.
What still isn’t clear at this time is what exactly Clouden was planning. The guns are one thing, but the bulletproof vest and fake U.S. Marshal identification really take this case to the next level of “what the fuck?” It’s possible we may never know what he was thinking, but we’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for new developments in the case.