Man caught at Puerto Rico airport with weapons
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A man was arrested this week trying to board a flight out of Puerto Rico while carrying weapons that included a stun gun, a switchblade knife and four box cutters, U.S. authorities said Wednesday.
Jose Pol, 59, a resident of Rhode Island, was passing through a security checkpoint at the U.S. Caribbean territory’s main international airport Monday when Transportation Security Administration agents discovered the weapons in his carry-on luggage, the FBI said.
U.S. authorities said they had not found any evidence linking the case to terrorism.
In Rhode Island, the man’s son, also named Jose Pol, said the suspect’s girlfriend believes he was bringing the knives to help her cut boxes at her job in the produce section of a Wal-Mart. He described his father as a packrat who hoards belongings and said he may have been collecting the other weapons as toys.
“It don’t surprise me,” the 23-year-old Pol said in an interview at his home in Pawtucket. “It was dumb of him doing that.”
The suspect remained in custody as investigators tried to determine his motive. U.S. prosecutors have charged him with attempting to board an aircraft with concealed dangerous weapons, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
“We continue to investigate his motivation and if he has any affiliation with any terrorist or other organization,” said Harry Rodriguez, an FBI spokesman in San Juan.
Pol was scheduled to take a JetBlue flight to Boston when he was arrested by FBI agents.
According to an FBI affidavit, a TSA agent noticed irregularities when Pol’s luggage went through an X-ray scanner and sent him for a secondary search. Officers then discovered the knives as well as two lighters, six batteries, a button device with a wire that gives off an electric charge when pressed, a flight simulator program and New York City information cards.
Pol was waiting to be assigned a public defender. Detention and bail hearings were scheduled for Friday.
The U.S. attorney’s office in San Juan said Pol was originally from Mayaguez in western Puerto Rico but now lives in Rhode Island.
The younger Jose Pol said his father is a U.S. Army veteran who served in Vietnam and currently works part-time.
He said FBI agents spent several hours looking through his father’s belongings at his home in Pawtucket and left without taking anything.
“They don’t think he’s a terrorist. They’re just suspicious of why he had so many things on him,” said Pol, who added that his father had been visiting his parents in Puerto Rico.
Associated Press Writer Michelle R. Smith in Pawtucket contributed to this report.