A Pennsylvania man was arrested and faces federal charges after an explosive device was found in a suitcase that was to have been loaded on a plane at an airport Monday, officials said.
The FBI arrested Marc Muffley, 40, at his home in Lansford on Monday night, hours after the incident at Lehigh Valley International Airport, the FBI said.
He is alleged to have checked a rolling suitcase at the Allegiant Air desk Monday morning.
Inside was what the Transportation Security Administration called a live explosive device — described by the FBI in court documents as a circular compound wrapped in wax paper and plastic wrap, hidden in the lining of the suitcase.
It contained a powder “suspected to be a mixture of flash powder and the dark granulars that are used in commercial grade fireworks,” and attached to the compound were two fuses, the FBI said in an affidavit attached to a criminal complaint.
The criminal complaint and the FBI affidavit do not shed any light on why the explosives were in the suitcase.
The FBI said in the affidavit that Muffley is seen on security cameras getting dropped off at the airport around 10:45 a.m.
At 11:40 a.m., after the material was found in the suitcase, the airport paged Muffley and instructed him to go to the security desk, FBI Special Agent Eddie Garcia wrote in the affidavit.
At 11:45 a.m., Muffley is seen on camera leaving the airport, the document says.
Muffley was in custody Wednesday, and a probable cause and detention hearing was scheduled for Thursday, the FBI said.
It was not clear whether Muffley had an attorney who could speak on his behalf. Phone numbers associated with him in public records were not in service Wednesday night.
A criminal complaint lists charges of possession of an explosive in an airport; and possessing, or attempting to place, or attempting to have placed, an explosive or incendiary device on an aircraft.
The TSA said in a statement that the device was found during routine screening of checked baggage.
The suitcase triggered an alarm, and then an officer physically inspected it and found the item, the agency said. The immediate area was evacuated, and the FBI was called.
There were two fuses on the compound, according to the FBI affidavit. One was a “quick fuse” and appeared to have been on there when it was initially manufactured, and the other was a “hobby fuse” that appeared to have been added later, the affidavit says.
Also in the bag were a can of butane, a lighter, a pipe with white powder residue, a wireless drill and two electrical outlets taped together, it says.
A spokesperson for Allegiant declined to comment, citing an active investigation.
Lehigh Valley International Airport is next to Allentown, around 50 miles north of Philadelphia. Lansford is a town of around 4,100 a little more than 25 miles northwest of the airport.