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Movie producer detained after knife slips past security at Tampa International

TAMPA — A security breach at Tampa International Airport allowed a passenger with a knife in his carry-on bag to get on board a plane Sunday before police arrested him.

The man, who authorities say inadvertently carried on the weapon, is movie producer Philippe Francois Martinez.

A family member who answered the phone at his Clearwater home Sunday said the incident "was a big mistake."

The woman, who declined to identify herself, said Martinez was unavailable to comment because he was traveling.

Around 6:45 a.m., Transportation Security Administration personnel noticed the knife during a security screening and alerted airport police, said airport spokeswoman Brenda Geoghagan.

But when officers searched the bag, they did not find the knife. They discovered they had detained the wrong passenger.

A subsequent review of the security screening video provided a description of the passenger traveling with the concealed weapon, and TSA shut down screenings at the terminal around 7:15 a.m.

TSA and airport police located a passenger matching the description aboard an American Airlines flight that was set to depart for Miami, Geoghagan said. A search of his carry-on bag revealed the knife. A description of the knife was not available.

Martinez, 43, was arrested and faces a charge of carrying a concealed weapon, Geoghagan said.

"This was a very unintentional incident," she said.

By late Sunday, according to the family member, Martinez was not in custody.

Martinez's film history includes works such as last year's Game of Death with Wesley Snipes, The Steam Experiment with Val Kilmer, Armand Assante and Eric Roberts in 2009 and Modigliani with Andy Garcia in 2004, according to the Internet Movie Database.

Martinez was going to travel on to San Juan, Puerto Rico, from Miami, Geoghagan said.

The incident caused a 10-minute delay in the American Airlines flight. Two US Airways flights were also delayed because of the incident, according to Geoghagan, one by 15 minutes and the other by 40 minutes.

TSA resumed normal screening operations around 7:30 a.m.

Knives are not permitted in carry-on luggage, according to the TSA website, except for plastic or butter knives. Other types of knives may travel in checked baggage.

In a statement after Sunday's incident, the TSA said that there are multiple layers of security, including reinforced cockpit doors and air marshals.

"While sharp objects, such as a knife remains a prohibited item, it will not cause catastrophic damage on an aircraft," the agency said in the statement. "TSA urges passengers to pack responsibly and ensure they have no prohibited items with them at the airport."

Movie producer detained after knife slips past security at Tampa International 07/31/11 [Last modified: Monday, August 1, 2011 12:13am]
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