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Man charged with hiding explosive in suitcase at Pa. airport; Allegiant flight was bound for Florida

Federal authorities have charged a Carbon County man with hiding an explosive in a suitcase at Lehigh Valley International Airport, which led to the terminal being closed for more than two hours this week.

Transportation Security Administration employees at LVIA found what they believed to be an explosive Monday in a checked rolling suitcase of passenger Mark Muffley, and contacted the FBI, authorities said.

Muffley, 40, of Lansford, was arrested later Monday at his home, an FBI spokesperson said Wednesday. The spokesperson said Muffley remained in custody, and a hearing was scheduled for Thursday afternoon via videoconference.

Authorities released this photo from a security camera at Lehigh Valley International Airport of Mark Muffley. The Lansford, Carbon County, man has been charged with bringing an explosive device into the airport. (Provided by the FBI)

According to court records:

Muffley was taking Allegiant Flight 201 to Orlando Sanford International Airport in Florida. Agents found a circular device with a granular powder wrapped in paper and clear plastic wrap and with a “quick fuse” hidden in the lining of Muffley’s bag.

The granular powder was “suspected to be a mixture of flash powder and the dark granulars that are used in commercial grade fireworks.” The baggage also contained a can of butane, a lighter, a pipe with white powder residue, a wireless drill with cordless batteries, and two GFCI outlets taped together with black tape.

LVIA security cameras recorded Muffley being dropped off about 10:45 a.m. Monday at the airport by a person driving a white Chevrolet Equinox.

About 11:40 a.m., after the Transportation Security Administration initially discovered the explosive, Muffley was paged over the airport’s public address system to the airport’s security desk.

About five minutes later, security cameras recorded Muffley leaving the airport’s lower-level exit.

The Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority was notified of the package at 11:18 a.m. and the west side of the Main Terminal was closed as a precautionary measure, spokesperson Colin Riccobon said Monday.

Airport operations continued during the onsite investigation, which in addition to the FBI was conducted by airport police, Allentown and Bethlehem bomb squads and TSA. The suspicious package was removed from the airport, and the west side of the Main Terminal  reopened at 1:50 p.m.

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