An Argentine airport was evacuated Tuesday after a suspected explosive device was discovered at the facility. But when the bomb squad arrived to investigate the object, they determined that it was actually a cannabis grinder designed to resemble a hand grenade. The incident occurred at the Astor Piazzolla airport in Mar del Plata, a seaside city about 250 miles southeast of the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires.
Alehandro Itzcovich, the chief of national airport security in Argentina, told local media that he believed that the pot grinder had been left at the airport by a departing passenger.
“Someone must have discarded the artifact before boarding on a plane,” Itzcovich said.
He added that airport security officials had “confirmed that it was not an explosive and we’re now trying to determine who the owner of this object is.”
Photographs of the event show a security officer in a bomb protection suit holding the hand grenade-shaped weed grinder. Nearby, additional security officers can be seen watching the bomb squad officer and smiling.
Officials said several flights in and out of Mar del Plata were delayed by the airport evacuation.
It’s Not the First Time
The incident in Argentina is not the first time a marijuana grinder shaped like a hand grenade has caused trouble at an airport. In March 2016, security officers found a similar grinder in a passenger’s bag at the airport in Sacramento, California. After that incident, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) posted a photograph of the grinder to its Instagram feed, along with a warning to flyers.
“Anything resembling a grenade is prohibited in both carry-on and checked baggage. Especially if it’s a grenade shaped grinder with marijuana inside. This grenade-shaped grinder was discovered in a carry-on bag at Sacramento International Airport (SMF),” the post reads.
And in April 2016, flights were delayed at Bellingham International Airport in the state of Washington when what appeared to be a camouflage hand grenade was found in a passenger’s carry-on luggage by TSA officers. After seeing the device in a bag going through screening equipment, TSA personnel evacuated the security screening and boarding areas of the airport as a precaution.
The bomb squad was called to investigate that incident, as well. The passenger was questioned by security personnel and they determined the object was a cannabis grinder. The traveler was released and allowed to board his flight.
After the incident, TSA spokesperson Lorie Dankers told local media that airport security officials are looking for objects that might pose a danger to flights during screening procedures, not drugs or similar contraband.
“They’re not looking for that sort of thing,” Dankers said. “They saw an image of a grenade, and it led them to this.”
Has Las Vegas Airport Found a Solution?
With the rash of pot grinders resembling hand grenades causing security alerts, airports might consider following the lead of McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. In response to the legalization of cannabis in Nevada, officials at McCarran installed so-called amnesty boxes at airport entrances. The secure drop sites, which resemble street corner mailboxes painted green, allow passengers to safely dispose of any contraband they may have before they enter the facility.