Florida Keys

Airline passenger had box cutter hidden in her carry-on, FBI says

A woman tried to board a flight at Key West International Airport Jan. 11 with a box cutter stashed in her carry-on, the FBI said.
A woman tried to board a flight at Key West International Airport Jan. 11 with a box cutter stashed in her carry-on, the FBI said. File

A woman trying to board a flight from Key West to Charlotte, N.C., earlier this month was arrested after federal agents said she had a box cutter hidden inside her carry-on bag.

Alison Anne Pickford, who used a Canadian passport as identification at Key West International Airport, faces federal charges in U.S. District Court for having the box cutter, which was hidden inside a hollowed-out book, along with a black feather and a pack of cigarettes, according to the complaint.

Pickford admitted the box cutter was hers, said FBI Special Agent Nicholas Schnelle’s affidavit.

“She further stated that she intended to place the hollowed-out book containing the box cutter inside of her checked bag, but mistakenly placed it in her carry-on bag,” Schnelle wrote.

The cutting tool falls under the category of dangerous weapons barred from flights after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, when four planes were hijacked by members of Al Qaeda wielding box cutters — which were not prohibited on American flights at the time.

Pickford was arrested Jan.13 and is due in the Key West federal courthouse on Friday for a pre-trial detention hearing before Magistrate Judge Lurana Snow. Arraignment is set for Jan. 27.

“Defendant is partially indigent,” according to court minutes of her Jan. 13 appearance. “Has $40,000 in Australian account which she does not have easy access to.”

The judge ordered Pickford to pay $4,000 to the Registry of Court “by the time of her disposition or as soon as she gets a bond.” Her name didn’t come up in searches of federal, Florida or Monroe County inmate databases.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Marcet in Miami said he couldn’t discuss the case. Pickford’s age and address were not on any of the documents filed with her case.

Pickford was at the Transportation Security Administration security checkpoint about 1:50 p.m. Jan. 11 with a boarding pass for American Airlines flight No. 4430 when agents noticed what appeared to be a box cutter in a bag being screened through the X-ray machines.

After running the bag through the machine a second time, they confirmed the suspicious item was a box cutter, which is considered under federal law a “concealed, dangerous weapon” accessible to her during flight.

The TSA said no one in the immediate area came forward to claim the bag with the box cutter so they opened it, finding envelopes and cards with Pickford’s name inside. They made an announcement over the public address system calling for her to return to the checkpoint.

Pickford was assigned federal public defender Steward Abrams, who Tuesday filed a motion invoking her right to remain silent and requiring all law enforcement agencies to contact her only through her attorneys.

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen