- Associated Press - Friday, February 20, 2015

ATLANTA (AP) - A federal grand jury this week indicted a former Atlanta airport baggage handler on charges of helping smuggle guns onto passenger jets bound for New York City.

The indictment was filed Wednesday in Atlanta against Eugene Harvey, who worked for Delta Air Lines before he was fired as a result of the investigation.

Harvey’s job gave him access to secure areas of the airport without having to pass through security screening, and he used that access multiple times to smuggle guns into the airport where he then passed them on to another man who took them onto passenger planes heading to New York, the indictment says.

Harvey was arrested in December and was released on bond. His attorney, Bruce Harvey, wrote in an email Friday that his client maintains his innocence and plans to plead not guilty.

Harvey is accused of passing the guns to Mark Quentin Henry, who used to work as a Delta baggage handler until he was fired in 2010 after three years for abusing its buddy pass system.

Henry was arrested in New York on Dec. 10 in a gun trafficking investigation after an undercover agent bought a gun from one of his accomplices, authorities have said. The investigation targeted guns that were purchased in the Atlanta area and sold in New York.

Henry is not named in the federal indictment filed in Atlanta, but he has been indicted in Brooklyn on charges related to the alleged gun trafficking. An attorney for Henry has said his client also maintains his innocence.

Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson said in December that the case demonstrates a terrorism threat and should cause the airline industry to end the practice of letting some workers enter airports without security screening.

Federal authorities and Atlanta airport officials pledged stricter employee-security procedures after the alleged smuggling operation was uncovered.

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