Day: December 20, 2022

10,000 Fentanyl Pills Worth $40K Seized During Mount Laurel Arrest

December 20, 2022

A joint investigation by the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office Gang, Gun and Narcotics Task Force, United States Homeland Security Investigations – Cherry Hill Office, and the Mount Laurel Police Department culminated in the seizure yesterday of 10,000 fentanyl pills – worth $40,000 on the street – and the arrest of a 33-year-old Florida man.

Shane Smith, of Daytona Beach, was charged with two counts of Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance (Second Degree). He was lodged in the Burlington County Jail in Mount Holly pending a detention hearing in Superior Court. The case will be prepared for presentation to a grand jury for possible indictment.

Smith was arrested in the parking lot of the Walmart on Route 73. Details of investigation, which began earlier this month, are not being released at this time.

The seized pills are multicolored and informally known as rainbow fentanyl. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, this trend appears to be a new method used by drug cartels to sell highly addictive and potentially deadly fentanyl made to look like candy to children and young people.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the DEA.  Just two milligrams of fentanyl, which is equal to 10-15 grains of table salt, is considered a lethal dose.

Fentanyl remains the deadliest illicit drug in the United States.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 107,622 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2021, with 66 percent of those deaths related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.  Drug poisonings are the leading killer of Americans between the ages of 18 and 45.

The fentanyl available in the United States is primarily supplied by two criminal drug networks, the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) in Mexico, according to the DEA.

Smith will be prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutor Michael Angermeier, supervisor of the BCPO Gang, Gun and Narcotics Task Force.

All persons are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Shane Smith, of Daytona Beach, was charged with two counts of Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance (Second Degree). He was lodged in the Burlington County Jail in Mount Holly pending a detention hearing in Superior Court. The case will be prepared for presentation to a grand jury for possible indictment.

Former Keansburg Police Officer Sentenced for Sex Crime

December 20, 2022

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A former member of the Keansburg Police Department has been sentenced to four years in state prison after admitting earlier this year to committing a sex crime while off-duty, Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced Tuesday.

Nicholas Thompson, 26, must serve a minimum of 85 percent of the term before the possibility of parole under New Jersey’s No Early Release Act (NERA), in accordance with guidelines set down by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Jill G. O’Malley. He will also be required to register as a sex offender under the provisions of Megan’s Law, be subject to Parole Supervision for Life, and permanently forfeit all prospects of future public employment in New Jersey.

Thompson, who was sworn in as a Patrolman in Keansburg last year, was a SLEO (Special Law Enforcement Officer) Type II at the time of the crime. He was arrested and charged in October 2021. Thompson’s plea agreement to second-degree Attempted Aggravated Sexual Assault was reached in May, after consultation with the victim.   

During his plea, Thompson admitted that he attempted to have sex with the victim while she was unconscious and incapable of consent. This incident occurred in January 2021 at a private residence, while Thompson was off-duty.

This case was assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco, Director of the Office’s Professional Responsibility & Bias Crime Unit. Thompson was represented by Mitchell Ansell, Esq., with an office in Ocean Township.

“Sworn members of law enforcement are rightfully held to a higher standard of conduct, on the job and off,” Prosecutor Santiago said. “When they fall so short of that standard that their conduct becomes criminal, we then have a solemn obligation and responsibility to step in and ensure that they are held fully accountable.”

Monmouth Medical Center Takes Ownership of Former Fort Monmouth Property in Tinton Falls

December 20, 2022

LONG BRANCH, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Monmouth Medical Center (MMC), an RWJBarnabas Health (RWJBH) facility, has officially purchased the former Fort Monmouth property in Tinton Falls from the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA). The property, located at Corregidor Road and Pearl Harbor Avenue, will be the home of the Vogel Medical Campus at Tinton Falls. Construction of the state-of-the-art medical campus will begin in 2023 and was made possible by a historic $50 million gift to MMC from local philanthropists Sheldon and the late Anne Vogel.

The Vogel Medical Campus at Tinton Falls will bring world-class care to an easily accessible location where patients can receive health care services in one place – creating a seamless and exceptional experience. The outpatient center will feature comprehensive same-day surgery, advanced diagnostic imaging, and on-site specialty physician offices.  The cornerstone of the outpatient center is a comprehensive cancer center in partnership with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.  All of these services will be provided in a park-like setting designed to promote a healing environment by embracing the natural landscape with green vistas and outdoor seating and walking areas.

“We are excited to take ownership of the property and begin the process of constructing a truly incredible facility. The Vogel Medical Campus will enable us to further our mission to deliver truly outstanding care to our community,” says Eric Carney, President and CEO of MMC and Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus. “As an expansion of the MMC campuses in Long Branch and Lakewood, the Vogel Medical Campus is located within the communities we currently serve and will be designed to meet the unique needs of our diverse and growing community now and in the future.”

The development of the Vogel Medical Campus is part of MMC’s mission to create an integrated outpatient network that helps patients maintain wellness and meet their evolving care needs. It is also supported by RWJBH’s expansive primary and specialty care provider network throughout the region. Recent advancements include:

  • MMC and its Unterberg Children’s Hospital expanded access to pediatric care and wellness programs through the Anne Vogel Family Care and Wellness Center at the Monmouth Mall in Eatontown. The center also provides access to the outstanding offerings of Children’s Specialized Hospital, also an RWJBH facility.  
  • MMC partnered with Monmouth University on the Linda Grunin Simulation Lab and Learning Center in West Long Branch, which is providing high-tech, hands-on learning experiences for medical residents, students and staff.

“The Vogel Medical Campus is another example of meeting the healthcare needs of our region in an effective, flexible and sustainable way,” says Bill Arnold, Executive Vice President and President of the Southern Region, RWJBH, and President and CEO of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. “Our integrated network of inpatient and outpatient facilities, along with our outstanding providers, is ensuring high-quality care now and for generations to come.”

Monmouth Medical Center is the only hospital in the region to receive an “A” Hospital Safety Score by the Leapfrog Group for 16 consecutive rating periods. MMC was also named a top teaching hospital by the Leapfrog Group in 2021 and was named to the 2022 Newsweek list of “World’s Best Hospitals”.

As part of the outpatient center development at the Vogel Medical Campus, plans for transforming the site also include the option for a new acute care hospital, should there be a future need. This hospital would be an expansion of the care already provided at Monmouth Medical Center, and would operate in conjunction with the Long Branch campus.

“We are proud of the trust and confidence placed in us to transform healthcare in the region. Together, we will continue to work with our patients, families, clinicians and partners to advance healthcare in our communities,” says Carney.

Left to Right, Eric Carney, President & CEO, MMC and MMC Southern Campus; Mary Anne Nagy, Chair, MMC Board of Trustees; Bill Arnold, Executive Vice President and President of the Southern Region, RWJBH, and President and CEO of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

Manchester Police Officers Credited with Saving Man’s Life in 2016; Receive Praise From Survivor at Manchester Police Headquarters

December 20, 2022

Manchester Township NJ – On December 20, 2022 at approximately 1:00 p.m., Dale Dexter came to Manchester Police Headquarters to meet, in-person the two officers, he credits with saving his life following a heroin induced overdose at approximately 6:29 a.m., on February 10, 2016. 

The officers who responded to the scene and rendered aid were Ptl. Michael Guarino, now Det. Guarino and Ptl. Jason Wiener.  Upon arrival, they found Mr. Dexter to be unresponsive, with a low pulse rate, and shallow breathing.  Upon assessment of Mr. Dexter’s condition, the officers immediately performed life-saving measures to include the administration of Naloxone (Narcan).  Shortly after the administration of Naloxone, members of Manchester First Aid (Squad 29)/ Paramedics arrived and assumed ongoing care for Mr. Dexter who ultimately survived.  

While at Manchester Police headquarters, Mr. Dexter met Det. Guarino and Ptl. Wiener in the Police Department’s briefing room in the presence of other members of the Manchester Police Department.  Mr. Dexter shook their hands, expressing sincere gratitude for saving his life. He stated, “Without these two gentlemen, I would not be standing here today and my life would not be as amazing as it is today.  It helped me change my life and I couldn’t be more grateful to them.” 

Mr. Dexter explained that the day he overdosed marked a turning point in his life and proudly stated that he had been clean for over five years.  He indicated that one of his life’s goals is to help as many people as he can, and to give back to the community from which he admittedly had taken from for many years.  One way he is working toward meeting that goal is through volunteer efforts with the Toms River based, Hope Sheds Light organization where he has been involved as a certified peer recovery specialist. 

The Manchester Police Department thanks Mr. Dexter for taking to time to acknowledge the officers for their distinguished efforts and wish him the best in the future.

 Left to Right Det. Michael Guarino, Dale Dexter, Ptl. Jason Wiener

Left to Right:  Lt. Albert Vega, Det. Michael Guarino, Dale Dexter, Ptl. Jason Wiener, Capt. Vincent Manco

Trenton Men Arrested And Charged With Robbery, Assault And Theft At Lawrence Township QuickChek

December 20, 2022

LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Lawrence Township Police report that pn November 9, 2022 at approximately 9:56 p.m., Lawrence Police Officers responded to a fight in progress inside the QuickChek located at 303 Brunswick Circle Extension, Lawrenceville, NJ.

On scene investigation revealed a 25-year-old victim was assaulted inside the store and his cell phone and cash were stolen during the altercation. After the robbery, the suspects exited the store and fled the area with the stolen property. The victim suffered serious bodily injury during the physical altercation.

Through the investigation led by Lawrence Township Police Detective Sean Kerins, the suspects were identified as Breon Phelps, 23-years-old of Trenton, NJ and Anthony Bethea, 21-years-old of Trenton NJ. The incident stemmed from a verbal argument between the victim and suspects days prior in Trenton, NJ.

On December 8, 2022, Anthony Bethea was taken into custody and charged with Robbery (second degree), Aggravated Assault (second degree) and Theft (third degree). On December 19, 2022, Breon Phelps was taken into custody and charged with Robbery (second degree), Aggravated Assault (second degree) and Theft (third degree). Phelps and Bethea have been transported to the Mercer County Correctional Center awaiting a Detention Hearing.

The Lawrence Township Police Department was assisted by the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office and the Trenton Police Department.

** Despite having been charged, every defendant is presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. **

Ex-Senior Correctional Officer at Youth Correctional Facility in Bordentown Pleads Guilty in Assault of Inmate and Cover-up

December 20, 2022

CHESTERFIELD TOWNSHIP, NJ (BURLINGTON)–Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin today announced that a former Senior Correctional Police Officer at the Albert C. Wagner Youth Correctional Facility in Bordentown has pleaded guilty after striking an inmate twice in the back of the head while the prisoner was handcuffed and restrained by other officers. After the assault, the officer attempted to cover up the incident by falsifying his report and convincing another guard to do the same.

Jason Parks, 43, of Gibbstown, N.J., appeared on Dec. 5 before the Honorable Terrance R. Cook, in Burlington County Superior Court and entered a guilty plea to second-degree conspiracy to commit official misconduct.

“Correctional Police Officers take an oath to maintain and secure the facilities where they are assigned,” said Attorney General Platkin. “The actions of the officer were not only unjustified and excessive, they were brutal and vicious. We will continue to hold law enforcement officers accountable to their promise to protect all New Jerseyans – including those in state custody.”

“Part of the Department of Corrections’ mission is running facilities that are not only secure but that also treat those in custody humanely, and this assaultive behavior will not be tolerated,” said Thomas Eicher, Executive Director of the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA). “To make matters worse, Parks falsified documents and dragged a fellow correctional police officer into filing a false and misleading report.”

In entering the plea, Parks admitted that on Feb. 19, 2019, while he was on duty at the Albert C. Wagner Youth Correctional Facility, he struck an inmate in the head twice while that inmate was handcuffed with his arms behind him. The inmate was being held by two other correctional police officers and facing away from Parks at the time. The force of the blows knocked the inmate’s head against a wall. That use of force was in clear violation of the Department of Corrections’ Use of Force policy.

After the assault, Parks filed a report in which he claimed the inmate cursed at him and threatened to spit in his face. In his report, Parks stated that he struck the inmate in the mouth with an open hand to prevent him from spitting. Surveillance video from the facility and witness statements contradicted those claims. After the incident, Parks directed another officer to write a report that echoed his own false narrative. In his plea, Parks admitted to conspiring with that officer to commit Official Misconduct and violate the DOC’s rules and policies.

Sentencing is scheduled for March 9, 2023 before Judge Cook. The defendant faces up to a decade in prison.

Under the plea deal, Parks also agreed to permanently forfeit public employment in New Jersey.

Parks was charged in an investigation conducted by OPIA and the Department of Corrections Special Investigations Division. 

The case was prosecuted by former Deputy Attorney General Jonathan Gilmore and Deputy Attorneys General Andrew Wellbrock and Sherrod Smith, under the supervision of OPIA Corruption Bureau Chief Peter Lee and OPIA Deputy Director Anthony Picione.

Defense Attorney: Bonnie Geller-Gorman, Esq., Assistant Deputy Public Defender, Burlington County.

42-Year-Old Jackson Man Charged With Possession Of Child Pornography

December 20, 2022

JACKSON TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on December 19, 2022, Joseph D. Tuzzio, Jr., 42, of Jackson Township, was charged with Possession of Child Pornography and three counts of Distribution of Child Pornography.

This investigation was the result of three referrals from the New Jersey State Police Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.  The ICAC Task Force detected that an individual was uploading images of child pornography to the internet using the Kik Messenger App.  An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit identified a Kik Messenger user with a Jackson Township address as the individual uploading the images of child pornography; that individual was ultimately identified as Tuzzio. 

On October 27, 2022, Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, United States Department of Homeland Security-Investigations Unit, and Jackson Township Police Department, executed a court-authorized search warrant on Tuzzio’s residence in Jackson Township.  As a result of the warrant, Detectives seized two cell phones and a laptop computer.  A forensic examination of the electronic devices by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit led to the discovery of more than 500 images of Child Pornography on the laptop.  Additionally, Detectives issued a Communication Data Warrant to KIK for Tuzzio’s most recently utilized KIK subscriber account.  KIK provided logs showing Tuzzio’s account as both receiving and distributing videos of child pornography.  The IP address associated with the child pornography activity was assigned to Tuzzio’s place of employment in Jackson.

On December 19, 2022, Tuzzio, accompanied by his attorney, surrendered himself at Jackson Township Police Headquarters where he was processed and thereafter transported to the Ocean County Jail.  He was subsequently released as a consequence of New Jersey Bail Reform.

Prosecutor Billhimer commends the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, United States Department of Homeland Security-Investigations Unit, Jackson Township Police Department, and New Jersey State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, for their collaborative assistance in connection with this investigation leading to Tuzzio’s arrest.

The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

R.P.C.  3.6(b)(6).

$6 Million to New Jersey in ‘Internet for All’ Planning Grants 

December 20, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that New Jersey received its first “Internet for All” grants for deploying high-speed Internet networks and developing digital skills training programs under the Biden-Harris Administration’s Internet for All initiative. New Jersey is receiving $6,098,830.90 in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, signed by President Biden, to plan for the deployment and adoption of affordable, equitable, and reliable high-speed Internet service throughout the state.  

NTIA Director of Public Engagement Mark Colon announced the grants alongside officials from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities and Mayor Reed Gusciora at the Trenton Public Library in Trenton, N.J.  

“We are certain our students, our businesses, and our residents will reap the benefits from this unprecedented program,” Mayor Reed Gusciora said. “Trenton is excited for this opportunity and we look forward to building these bridges to span the digital divide.” — City of Trenton Mayor Gusciora 

“The Internet is an essential service that gives access to healthcare, education, and employment that everyone in the Garden State should have,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.  “I commend Governor Murphy for his support of the Internet for All initiative.” 

“High-speed broadband is essential for work, school, and staying connected to family and friends,” said New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. “Expanding broadband access helps level the technology playing field and grows our nation’s economic competitiveness. I was proud to vote for the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and I’m grateful for the partnership with federal, state, and local officials to increase digital equity and access to high-speed internet in every community.” 

“New Jersey thanks the Biden Administration and our congressional delegation for securing crucial funding that will dramatically expand access to affordable high-speed internet in our state,” said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. “Since the outset of my Administration, I have been determined to restore and revamp our infrastructure, which includes not just roads and bridges, but the broadband that connects our residents to opportunity and each other. It’s comprehensive federal investments like these that will continue to make our state fairer and our communities more equitable for generations to come.” 

“These days, high-speed internet is not a luxury – it’s a necessity,” said Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06)Chairman of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce. “Americans depend on internet access to do their jobs, run their small businesses, study for school, meet with their doctor for a telehealth visit, and connect with family and friends. The COVID-19 pandemic made it all too clear that we must do more to bridge the digital divide and ensure every household has access to the internet. That’s exactly why I fought to include the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment Program and the Digital Equity Program in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This first round of funding will help New Jersey make sure residents are included in our effort to deploy broadband access equitably. I’m looking forward to working with the National Telecommunications Information Administration so that every New Jerseyan has broadband access.”  

“Reliable internet access is critical for our education systems, health care, small businesses, and job creation,” said Rep. Donald Norcross (NJ-01). “Investing in broadband infrastructure will bring economic opportunity to New Jersey and closing the digital divide by ensuring internet access is equitable will increase the quality of life for hardworking families. I’m proud to have voted for this funding in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and look forward to improving internet access for all New Jersey families.” 

“I would like to thank the Biden-Harris Administration for prioritizing Broadband. These two critical grants will help us to expand high-speed Internet access to thousands more New Jerseyans while ensuring digital equity,” said Joseph L. Fiordaliso, President, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. “In this day and age everyone should have high speed Internet through which they can access remote education opportunities for themselves and their children, take advantage of telehealth or work from home.  There are still far too many New Jersey residents and businesses who don’t have access to high speed Internet and it is the Murphy Administration’s goal to make sure that they do as quickly as possible.” 

All 50 U.S. states and six territories applied for planning grant funding for the Internet for All initiative’s Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program and the Digital Equity Act program. Grant awards for all 56 eligible entities will be announced on a rolling basis.   

About New Jersey’s Planning Grants 

Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program 

The BEAD Program provides $42.45 billion to expand high-speed Internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs. 

New Jersey will receive $4,922,089.90 to fund various activities including:  

  • Research and data collection, including initial identification of unserved locations and underserved locations; 
  • Publications, outreach, and communications support; 
  • Technical assistance to potential subgrantees, including through workshops and events; 
  • Surveys of unserved, underserved, and underrepresented communities to better understand barriers to adoption. 

Digital Equity 

The Digital Equity Act provides $2.75 billion to establish three grant programs to ensure that all people and communities have the skills, technology, and capacity needed to reap the full benefits of our digital economy. The first part of NTIA’s execution of the Digital Equity Act is to fund digital equity planning efforts. 

New Jersey will receive $1,176,741.00 to fund various activities including:  

  • Closing the digital equity gap and the development of a Statewide Digital Equity Plan; 
  • Staff recruitment and development;  
  • Community and stakeholder engagement. 

Internet for All 

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes a historic $65 billion investment to expand affordable and reliable high-speed Internet access in communities across the U.S. NTIA recently launched a series of new high-speed Internet grant programs funded by the law that will build high-speed Internet infrastructure across the country, create more low-cost high-speed Internet service options, and address the digital equity and inclusion needs in our communities. 

Additionally, the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward Internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Visit to learn more. 

For more information on the Biden-Harris Administration’s high-speed Internet service programs, please visit

Photos by: Brian McCarthy

Fatal Fire Under Investigation In East Brunswick

December 20, 2022

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Chief Frank LoSacco of the East Brunswick Police Department announced today that authorities are investigating a fire in which one person perished.

Today, at approximately 4:50 a.m., authorities responded to a residence on Lear Court in East Brunswick Township following a report of a structure fire. Upon their arrival, first responders located an unresponsive man inside the residence. The man, whose identity is being withheld pending notification to his next of kin, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The cause of death remains undetermined pending the completion of an autopsy by the Middlesex County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office. No firefighters or police officers were injured.

While the investigation is ongoing, a preliminary investigation indicates that the fire is not suspicious in nature.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is active and continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Lieutenant Donald Carruth of the East Brunswick Police Department at 908-421-3707 or Detective Kevin Schroeck of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-4194.

Fire In In Attached Garage Quickly Brought Under Control In Brick Township

December 20, 2022

BRICK TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Around 9:40 p.m., Brick Township Police received a 9-1-1 call for a residential structure fire in the first block of Fletcher Street. When Police arrived on scene, they reported a fire from the roofline of a home with an attached garage. When the first due fire chief arrived on scene (2300) a second alarm was called for and reported heavy fire coming from the attached garage and an exposure issue on the B side of the structure. The first due Ladder Truck 2305 set up a supply line on a nearby fire hydrant and started and used a 2.5-inch line to attack the main body fire in the garage a 1 3/4-inch exposure line for the B side was used to protect the exposure. 2471 was behind 2305 and helped them start pumping water & charging the hydrant. All Brick Township fire companies responded to the scene along with Point Pleasant Borough for their Fast Team & Engine to the scene. Once lines were in service the fire was quickly knocked down. The cause of the fire is currently unknown and is under investigation by the Brick Township Police & Brick Township Fire Bureau.

Photos, video, and story by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response

Florida Man Arrested With Loaded Handgun At Trenton-Mercer Airport

December 20, 2022

EWING TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–A Florida man was arrested by police on Sunday, Dec. 18, after Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers stopped him with a loaded .380 caliber handgun in his carry-on bag at the Trenton-Mercer Airport security checkpoint. The man also was in possession of two loaded gun magazines and a pellet gun. Like firearms, pellet guns and other realistic replica guns are not permitted through a TSA security checkpoint.

It was the first gun caught at the airport checkpoint this year. One gun also was stopped at the checkpoint in 2021 and a single gun also was detected in 2020.

“Our officers are good at their jobs and are focused on their mission—especially during the busy holiday travel period,” said Thomas Carter, TSA’s Federal Security Director for New Jersey. “Not only was he arrested by the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department, but this individual also faces a stiff financial civil penalty—a penalty for carrying a weapon that was recently increased to a maximum of $15,000.”

TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.

Bringing a gun to an airport checkpoint carries a federal civil penalty because TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns and gun parts with them at a checkpoint. Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating circumstances. This applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits because even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane. The complete list of civil penalties is posted online. Additionally, if a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and passengers should do their homework to make sure that they are not violating any local firearm laws. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

Nationwide, TSA officers detected 5,972 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints in 2021. Of the guns caught by TSA last year, about 86 percent were loaded. TSA has already surpassed the 2021 figure and expects to detect approximately 6,600 firearms at security checkpoints by the end of 2022, which will be a new record.

This loaded handgun was stopped at the Trenton-Mercer Airport security checkpoint on Sunday, Dec. 18. (TSA photo)

TSA officer detected this pellet gun in a traveler’s carry-on bag at Trenton-Mercer Airport on Dec. 18. (TSA photo)