The luggage went missing after being checked at New York's Kennedy International Airport Sunday for an American Airlines flight to Washington ahead of Netanyahu's meeting with President Barack Obama Tuesday. The luggage turned up in Los Angeles and was sent back to Washington by way of Chicago, the New York Post and The Wall Street Journal reported.
When the suitcase was opened in Washington, four 9mm Glock 17 handguns were missing, officials said.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates Kennedy and is the lead investigative agency in the incident, considers finding the guns "priority No. 1 in American law enforcement," a Port Authority source told the Post.
The apparent theft is being investigated by the FBI, U.S. Secret Service and Israeli authorities, the newspaper said.
American Airlines authorized a search of worker lockers at Kennedy because of the possibility the guns were stolen there by thieves who then rerouted the suitcase to Los Angeles to delay discovery of the crime.
The rerouting also vastly broadens the pool of people who come in contact with the bag, making it harder to identify suspects, the Journal said.
"The working theory is that the guns are in New York," the source told the Post. "Anyone who came in contact with that bag is being interviewed and the authorities in Los Angles are doing the exact same thing."
The investigation is focused on employees of American and the baggage handlers it contracts, the Journal said.