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US Air Marshals flee Brazil following arrest saga

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US Air Marshals flee Brazil following arrest saga

Old 22nd Oct 2010, 04:10
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US Air Marshals flee Brazil following arrest saga

Two U.S. air marshals flee Brazil after being charged with assault

By Mike M. Ahlers, CNN
October 22, 2010 -- Updated 0020 GMT (0820 HKT)


The air marshals were arrested in Brazil after they arrested the wife of a Brazilian judge aboard a Continental flight.


STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Two air marshals were on a Continental flight to Rio on October 1
  • Sources say the marshals arrested a female passenger after a disruption
  • When the flight landed in Rio, the marshals were arrested by Brazilian authorities
  • A source says the passenger is the wife of a prominent Brazilian judge


RELATED TOPICS
Washington (CNN) -- Two U.S. air marshals who arrested the wife of a Brazilian judge on a flight to Rio de Janeiro -- and were themselves arrested and had their passports confiscated by Brazilian authorities -- fled the country using alternate travel documents rather than face what they believed to be trumped-up charges, sources said.
The incident has impacted air marshal operations on flights to Brazil, officials said, and air marshals contacted by CNN said the case raises questions about Brazil's willingness to support future law enforcement actions by U.S. officials on international flights.
The incident occurred on October 1 on Continental Flight 128 from Houston, Texas, to Rio de Janeiro. During the flight, a female passenger who appeared to be intoxicated tried to serve herself drinks by going to the plane's galley, one source said. The plane's crew asked air marshals to intervene, and two marshals approached the woman, who began struggling with them.
Two sources said the woman bit one of the air marshals, and she was handcuffed and placed under arrest.
At the Rio airport, the air marshals went to turn over the woman to local authorities but were themselves brought before a federal judge and charged with misdemeanor counts of assault, sources said. Brazilian authorities took the air marshals' passports, so they could not leave the country and set a court hearing for the following week, sources said.
"They (Brazilian officials) did not want them to leave. They were not free to go," one U.S. law enforcement source said.
But the air marshals used alternate travel documents and quietly departed the country on a commercial flight that same day without the knowledge of the Brazilian court officials who had sought their detention.
One source said the air marshals believed the charges against them were retaliatory because the passenger they arrested is the wife of a prominent Brazilian judge. The air marshals believed it was to their benefit to leave the country and let the U.S. and Brazilian governments resolve the dispute, the source said.
The air marshals had not recovered their passports when they left, the sources said.
A Transportation Security Administration official, contacted by CNN on the day of the incident, confirmed that air marshals had confronted a "disruptive passenger" on Flight 128, and said that U.S. officials were working with their Brazilian counterparts to resolve "an issue," which the official declined to discuss.
Shortly before midnight the day of the incident, the TSA official said the air marshal team had left Brazil, but the official did not elaborate on the circumstances.
U.S. officials on October 1 and again this week declined to discuss the circumstances in which the air marshals left Brazil. But, commenting about the incident on board the aircraft, an official said, "We believe our federal air marshals acted appropriately within the provisions of the Convention on Offenses and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft (Tokyo Convention)."
Air marshals and union representatives contacted by CNN say it is important that Brazil and other nations recognize law enforcement actions taken by air marshals during international flights.
"In theory we're all working together to combat the threat of terrorism and we should not let egos or marital relations impact proper procedure and legal protocols," said Jon Adler, national president for the union that represents air marshals.
Numerous sources said the issue is still unresolved. According to court documents in Brazil, after the air marshals missed a scheduled court appointment on October 6, the court contacted the U.S. embassy in an attempt to get the air marshal's addresses.
On Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano met with Brazilian Minister of Defense Nelson Job to discuss strengthening the global aviation system. The United States and Brazil signed a "joint statement of intent on aviation security." A Department of Homeland Security official said the parties did not discuss the Continental Flight 128 incident or its aftermath.
Sources said they believe the two agents remain charged in Brazilian courts. They did not know if the agents' passports had been returned to them or the U.S. government.
State Department officials have declined to comment on the incident, but said it is not affecting relations with Brazil.
"We've got broad, deep relations with Brazil," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said. "We have many, many areas of cooperation with Brazil. And on those areas where we have had disagreements, or rather issues to address, and challenges, we've worked through them quite effectively."
A call to the Brazilian embassy in Washington on Thursday was not immediately returned.
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Old 22nd Oct 2010, 04:57
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"Air Marshals" at the bar?

So air marshals are aboard to prevent acts of terrorism. No problem there.

Since when was an inebriated lady helping herself to another gin and tonic, however inappropriately, an "act of terrorism?"

Guess they got bored sitting around doing nothing. Another example of American pathos.
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Old 22nd Oct 2010, 05:21
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... And in so doing, made sure every potential hi-jacker on the aircraft knew where the guns were.
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Old 22nd Oct 2010, 05:44
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Indeed. They should not have got involved in a 'misdemeanor' and compromised themselves. Any potential hijacker could use such a technique to identify and neutralise marshalls. And the crew should not know who they are either - that could lead to a potential compromise. However, the times I've flown on US flights, the marsahlls couldn't have been more obvious.

When some UK airlines carried them after 9/11, the crews were just told that they may be on board. There was nothing to identify them, and we would not know if our flight was designated a marshalled flight. I relaised I might have one on board once when someone I recognised from the military was sitting in economy. We made eye contact but showed no sign of recognition.
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Old 22nd Oct 2010, 06:58
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I too was surprised that two professionals would be sucked into a minor fracas over a few more G and Ts. Surely their training would include avoidance of minor disturbances on board that may be staged to identify Sky Marshals, On board security or enthusiastic ABPs. Having identified the aforementioned person off ill intent could quickly subdue them leave no or reduced security for more serious issues. So maybe not well trained or not that professional !!

Its a bit disturbing too that paperwork "appeared" that allowed the Marshals to depart a country in contravention of Court direction. They were charged with assault, surely not a charge worth being spirited out of a country a creating a diplomatic incident over. Seems a bit of an over reaction...................Or a well oiled machine springing into action to recover these agents as per SOPs of the TSA.

Well I suppose Mrs Brazilian Judge will have a peek over her shoulder before her next grab at a trolly full of Grog.
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Old 22nd Oct 2010, 11:03
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I seem to recall my training on air marshals that said they absolutely would not intervene in simple disruptive passenger events and that any intervention would be taken only at their discretion - not at the request of the crew. Maybe a lack of "action" on so many flights caused them to let their guard down and they intervened just to have something to do.
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Old 22nd Oct 2010, 11:38
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Quite surprised they didn't shoot her, what restraint.
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Old 22nd Oct 2010, 11:43
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Why did it take two of them to respond, at any rate? Sounds like they have got too cozy with the CC.

GB
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Old 22nd Oct 2010, 12:10
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dumb actions by the passenger
dumb actions by the crew
dumb actions by the air marshalls
dumb actions by the brazilian judiciary
dumb actions by the US agency


pretty much dumb a** actions all by all parties.
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Old 22nd Oct 2010, 13:02
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The plane's crew asked air marshals to intervene,
So all the keyboard hero's would have said NO?
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Old 22nd Oct 2010, 13:24
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Bruce Wayne - Batman

When can we expect your eyewitness report, your judgement of all involved surely means you were onboard and up nice and close. Share the intimate details of the incident which will enable all aircrew to learn how Batman would handle it.

I have had a gutful of this type of crap from passengers, here is hoping she was restrained nice and tight and won't be seen on a Continental Flight again and maybe a holiday on the No Fly List might smarten her up.

Then again Batman will have all the answers as he was obviously there.
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Old 22nd Oct 2010, 13:47
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"... The Air Marshal service is meant to promote confidence in civil aviation by effectively deploying Federal Air Marshals (FAMs) to detect, deter, and defeat hostile acts targeting the United States..."

Wow! Pouring yourself a drink at the airborne galley is a hostile act against the United States.

This is what happens when you promote baggage handlers and then give them guns & titles. USA...What a fiasco!
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Old 22nd Oct 2010, 13:59
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Staying in Brazil to attend a kangaroo court would be stupid. One of our pilots was being held there after that midair when their ATC put two aircraft at the same altitude, opposite directions at night and Brazil blamed our pilots, not ATC. They were allowed finally to return to the US pending trial. Guess what? They didn't go back.
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Old 22nd Oct 2010, 14:04
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I'm pretty much staggered by this.

Imagine if she hadn't been who she was, but a more "sinister" operative. Get the two marshall idiots into the galley and then five blokes jump them. Wouldn't be hard in such a confined space.

Is it just me, or are the yanks rather quite stupid. Has an Air Marshall ever actually saved a flight?
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Old 22nd Oct 2010, 14:25
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Yeah, Yanks are all morons. Thank God for the Brits or we would have never won two world wars, landed on the moon, got the internet or had the i-phone and I could not live without my Lucas electronics. Lets face it, Americans do some stupid things, but on the whole I think we are pretty far from a race of morons. Look, we have no idea what really happened on that flight. For all we know the drunk wench was making "I have a bomb" statements while she was blitzed out of her mind. I have heard and seen drunks do it myself. Until proven otherwise I will give the marshalls the benefit of the doubt.

Last edited by sky jet; 22nd Oct 2010 at 14:55.
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Old 22nd Oct 2010, 14:42
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Why do that? It's so much more fun to cast aspersions on character than to actually wait for the facts... and the word of the wife of a Brazilian Judge OF COURSE trumps whatever two American law officers would say, because, as we all know, all Americans are clowns and cowboys.... what dreck.

I'll tell you this, however: I've interacted with the FAMs since 9/11 and they've never been anything but consummate professionals. If they got involved they felt they had reason to.

But that doesn't play into your narrative now, does it?
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Old 22nd Oct 2010, 14:44
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So then, a few followers of bearded man with flip-flops living in a cave a Pakistani cave wish to "borrow" an aircraft in flight. Get a largish stooge in C-Class to have few glasses of pop too many and then take on the cabin crew - a bit of pushing and few insults might help. Now wait for the TSA's finest to come to the cabin crew's aid. I never thought it would be that simple. Admittedly you may have to take on a few passengers, but the two major obstacles have been identified so they can now be neutralised.

And as for the US Govt. arranging for their repatriation, that really is a bit beyond this site. But to skip a (friendly) country when you know full well that a country's legal system required their presence, is not on. It is arrogance and xenophobia beyond words. This is another example as to why the USA has such a poor reputation Worldwide. This also makes it more likely for US citizens to be locked up as soon as there is any whiff of judicial action.

PM
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Old 22nd Oct 2010, 14:48
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Also what strikes me as odd, is why did it take two of them.

Surely from just a pure tactical point of view it should have been one to "tackle" her and one to keep a good watch, but not disclose themselves.
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Old 22nd Oct 2010, 14:55
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Now wait for the TSA's finest to come to the cabin crew's aid
I don't think Sky Marshalls have anything to do with the TSA Piltdown Man.
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Old 22nd Oct 2010, 15:34
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Having to have had to deal with drunk passengers, the crew was correct in asking for assistance. You don't know what some of these drunks will do. There have been cases where they have tried to start fires in the lav, try to open emergency or main exit doors, try to get into the cockpit, etc. We were not there, so we are not totally informed on what happened.

First of all, the aircraft was a US Flagged aircraft, so under international law the Marshals had authority to act. Quite likely a FA asked the passenger to leave the galley and return to her seat. When the woman refused, the FA asked the Marshals to act. It is my understanding that they will normally ask the passenger to return to their seat or face arrest. According to the information, the woman attacked the Marshals and bit one of them. As for having 2 Marshals handle the situation, it is a standard law enforcement method. Almost any LEO will tell you, the most important thing is to go home in one piece at the end of the shift. The next is get the job done. And this is most likely accomplished by avoiding one on one. Over powering force is the order of the day.

It was definitely a political play, as the Marshals were turning the woman over to local law enforcement. If it was a real issue, all the locals had to do was release the woman. Personally, I feel the Marshals were correct in their actions and did the right thing in leaving the country. From what I read the signs were there that they were going to get really ******.
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