U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ-05) this week called on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to update its Security Guidelines for General Aviation Airport Operators and Users to block human trafficking at general aviation airports. In a letter to TSA Administrator David Pekoske raising alarms on gaps in TSA’s guidelines, Pascrell and Gottheimer cite Jeffrey Epstein’s use of Teterboro’s general aviation airport to transport human trafficking victims over the course of several decades which was uncovered by an exposé in the Bergen Record.
“While the [Government Accountability Office] has recognized these TSA measures have been generally successful at preventing terrorist or criminal activity at general aviation airports, the TSA guidelines on assessing security threats and in training protocols for the general aviation community make no mention of human trafficking,” Pascrell and Gottheimer write. “Mr. Epstein’s ability to take advantage of less stringent security regulations and staff training at Teterboro to facilitate a multidecade human trafficking ring demonstrates gaps in the current monitoring of general aviation airports and training of general aviation staff.”
Current TSA guidelines rely heavily on general aviation pilots and staff to screen and assess potential security threats. In their letter, Pascrell and Gottheimer lay out several measures that TSA could implement to further protect against human trafficking at airports.
Pascrell and Gottheimer continue, “we request that the TSA, in collaboration with the general aviation community, update its Security Guidelines for General Aviation Airport Operators and Users to include:
1. Policies and procedures to prevent human trafficking.
2. Reporting protocols to inform law enforcement, Congress, and the general public on human trafficking efforts.
3. Annual training on identifying and preventing human trafficking.