Seizures of drugs, alcohol increase after Sept. 11

Heightened security at Fairbanks airport producing contraband

Posted: Tuesday, February 17, 2004

FAIRBANKS - Police at Fairbanks International Airport are reporting an increase in illegal drugs and alcohol seized from travelers' baggage.

Police attribute the increase to better security after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

The Transportation Security Administration, a new department formed after the attacks to screen passengers and luggage, report illegal contraband they find during their security searches to the airport police.

"That stuff shows up a little bit more," said Lt. Bob Segla, of the airport police.

In January, airport police confiscated more than 53 liters of illegal alcohol and more than 42 grams of cocaine, according to an airport police log. The previous month, airport police took more than 38 liters of illegal alcohol, more than 140 grams of marijuana and about five grams of cocaine.

Several pipes containing marijuana resin were also taken during the two-month time period. All the contraband was destroyed or held as evidence, Segla said.

Much of the alcohol was in route to villages that have bans or limits on alcohol imports. In those cases someone from the commuter airlines would report those finds.

"If we run into something we'll call," said Art Warbelow, owner of Warbelow's Air Ventures. "If we knowingly transport drugs or alcohol they could seize our airplanes. We would never transport anything."

Some of the alcohol was found while searching commercial airline passengers or their luggage.

Most people don't know there is a law that restricts the amount of alcohol airplane, ship or train passengers may carry with them, Segla said. The limit is one liter of distilled spirits, two liters of wine and one gallon of beer, he said.

"A twelve pack (of beer) would be more than a gallon," Segla said.

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