September 26, 2023

A Pennsylvania man is in custody after an “explosive” was allegedly found in his checked baggage at Lehigh Valley International Airport on Monday, court documents show. Mark Muffley, 40, was taken into custody by the FBI later that night.

During routine screening by Transportation Security Administration agents, Muffley’s bag set off an alarm indicating it contained suspicious items, according to a criminal complaint. TSA personnel found a “circular compound, approximately three inches in diameter, wrapped in a wax-like paper and clear plastic wrap hidden in the lining of the baggage,” the complaint said.

The “immediate area” of the airport where the device was found was then evacuated “out of an abundance of caution,” TSA said in a statement.

The FBI was then contacted and an explosives expert found that the cylinder was filled with flash powder and a type of powder “consistent with a commercial grade firework.” The device also appeared to have had a “hobby fuse” — a type of fuse that burns slower than a “quick fuse” — added on, the complaint alleges.

An FBI agent determined that the powders were “susceptible to ignite from heat and friction and posed a significant risk to the aircraft and passengers.”

A surveillance image allegedly showing Mark Muffley. 

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

A can of butane, a lighter, a pipe with white powder residue, a wireless drill with cordless batteries and two taped-together ground fault circuit interrupter outlets were also found in the luggage, the complaint said.

Muffley was booked to fly to Orlando, but never boarded the flight, the complaint said. Security footage showed him leaving the airport shortly after he was paged on the airport’s public address system, according to the complaint.

The FBI arrested Muffley at his home in Lansford, Pennsylvania. He is due in court Thursday, where he will appear virtually for a probable cause and detention hearing.

—Pat Milton contributed reporting.  

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