Federal Agents Cause Security Breach At DIA

POSTED: 11:32 am MDT May 15, 2008
UPDATED: 3:34 pm MDT May 15, 2008

DENVER -- A security breach at Denver International Airport Thursday morning was blamed on four federal law enforcement officers who weren't properly screened as they pursued a suspect through the airport.

The breach forced the shutdown of the security lines for nearly 30 minutes until the officers were located on Concourse B and their credentials verified, said Carry Harmon, regional spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration.

7NEWS has identified the men as three Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and a Secret Service agent.

At about 9:45 a.m. the federal agents walked to the north security screening checkpoint near the A concourse bridge -- where law enforcement officers and marshals usually check in. After flashing their badges, the men asked the TSA agent on duty if they could avoid the verification process because they were chasing a suspect and didn't have time, a source told 7NEWS.

Law enforcement officers passing through the area are supposed to sign in with TSA and the TSA is supposed to verify their credentials with Denver police.

But instead of following procedure, the TSA agent waved them through, a source told 7NEWS. The TSA agent informed Denver police of the decision about 10-15 minutes later, when a new officer signed into his shift at 10 a.m.

The new officer learned what had happened and called it a breach. TSA supervisors agreed and the airport was shut down as police searched the concourses for the federal agents.

The agents and the suspect they were pursuing were located on the B concourse. Officers isolated the men and verified the agents' credentials. The TSA agent in question also visually confirmed that it was the same four men who had passed through the checkpoint earlier.

TSA determined the breach was cleared and the airport was reopened.

Underground trains were stopped and boarding was suspended for several planes during the breach.

The security lines were reopened at 10:35 a.m.

What was alarming to some was that if the men were not truly federal agents, they had 20 minutes in the airport to do what they wanted before the breach was announced, Call7 Investigator Tony Kovaleski said.

The suspect that the three federal agents were pursuing was also arrested on Concourse B.

When the Denver officer asked for the warrant for the man's arrest, the agents said they were waiting for a warrant on an immigration hold but the agents did not have a warrant in their possession.

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