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Cuba: Travelers stowing guns in luggage

April 25, 2012 at 10:36 AM

MIAMI, April 25 (UPI) -- Cuban officials have complained twice about finding guns stowed away in luggage arriving on the island from Miami in 2010, the U.S. State Department said.

The previously undisclosed incidents raise questions about security at Miami International Airport, the guns' owners, why the guns were taken to Cuba and what happened to the travelers, El Nuevo Herald reported Tuesday.

A Miami travel company official said Cuban officials told her there were six similar incidents this year alone, not just the two the State Department acknowledged. The Cuban officials said five weapons were found when the luggage was X-rayed in Havana and the other was discovered in Holguin.

"I can't bring a box of cigars from Cuba because of the [decades-old U.S.] embargo, but these people are taking guns to Cuba. Sheez!" the travel company official told the newspaper.

The Cuban government complained to U.S. officials in 2010 that guns were twice found in luggage that arrived from Miami, but since then "we have not been informed of any other incidents," State Department spokesperson William Ostick said.

Sari Koshetz, a Transportation Security Administration-Miami representative, did not comment on details about the matter but said in an e-mail to El Nuevo Herald, "TSA works closely with our Cuban counterparts, as we expand our partnership to provide a high level of mutual transportation security."

"While I cannot comment on certain procedural specifics for security reasons, TSA carefully applies security measures in accordance with international standards and TSA requirements," Koshetz said.

TSA regulations permit firearms to be stowed in checked-in luggage but the weapons must be unloaded and locked in hard-sided containers. Ammunition must be packed separately and the guns must be declared at check-in.

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