Jump to search Jump to main navigation Jump to main content Jump to footer navigation

Global Security Newswire

Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues

Produced by
NationalJournal logo

Miami Airport Closed for Hours Amid Bioterrorism Fears

Authorities closed much of Miami International Airport and nearby hotels for hours last week when a man attempting to carry a suspicious container through customs was linked to a 2003 investigation over his handling of plague samples, the Associated press reported (see GSN, May 5, 2006).

Former Texas Tech University professor Thomas Butler, 70, caught the attention of a Transportation Security Administration officer at 9 p.m. Thursday at a customs checkpoint. The inspector checked a database and found that Butler had been charged previously with plague-related crimes.

The airport was evacuated and Butler was taken into custody for a short period. He provided full cooperation and faces no charges in the incident, according to a law enforcement source. An analysis of the container determined it contained no dangerous material, a high-level police official said.

Butler in January 2003 reported vials of plague bacteria stolen from his laboratory. Federal agents were called in to search, but stopped looking when Butler submitted a written statement in which he acknowledged making a “misjudgment” by not telling his supervisor the vials were “accidentally destroyed.”

Butler was convicted of fraudulently sending plague samples to Tanzania in an inaccurately marked package, although charges he had smuggled and illegally transferred the samples were dropped. He also received a two-year prison sentence for fraud and theft relating to contracts with pharmaceutical firms (Kay/Andersen, Associated Press/North Jersey Record, Sept. 4).

Note to our Readers

GSN ceased publication on July 31, 2014. Its articles and daily issues will remain archived and available on NTI’s website.

NTI Analysis

  • Latin America and the Caribbean 1540 Reporting

    Oct. 16, 2015

    This report is part of a collection examining implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, which requires all states to implement measures aimed at preventing non-state actors from acquiring NBC weapons, related materials, and their means of delivery. It details implementation efforts in Central America, South America and the Caribbean to-date.

  • U.S. Government Officials on the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification

    June 11, 2015

    U.S. government officials have been sharing information on the International Partnership for Disarmament Verification, an initiative of the U.S. State Department and NTI.