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U.S. air marshal may have left ammo, magazines in hotel air duct

By Sara Sidner, CNN
  • Indian officials first questioned Italians who had been last to stay in room
  • Indian officials did not confirm air marshal was suspect
  • U.S. officials said they were working with Indians on incident

New Delhi, India (CNN) -- A U.S. federal air marshal may have violated Indian law after failing to properly secure his law enforcement equipment when inside the country, U.S. officials said Friday.

The equipment brought into India included two pistol magazines and ammunition -- items the U.S. Transportation Security Administration says air marshals are supposed to secure as they enter another country.

"TSA is investigating this incident and working with Indian government officials to ensure that the facts of this incident are thoroughly reviewed," federal officials said in a statement issued from the TSA by the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.

Delhi police did not confirm that a U.S. air marshal was part of the investigation, but P.N. Aggarwal, the joint commissioner of Delhi police, said that "quite a few rounds (of ammunition) and two magazines" were discovered inside an air-conditioning duct in a hotel room.

The description matched TSA's of the equipment was "not secured properly" by an air marshal in India.

The found items led to an uncomfortable encounter for three Italians visiting India -- they were the last people to occupy the hotel room before the ammunition and magazines were found.

The Italians had traveled on to Mumbai by the time the items were discovered and were called back to Delhi to talk with police. "They were allowed to go," Aggarwal said, after investigators found "no evidence" against them.

Neither Indian nor U.S. officials released the names of the Italians or the federal air marshal. Although Indian officialswould not confirm whether an air marshal was a suspect in the case, U.S. officials were more forthright.

"On June 1st, TSA was made aware of a situation regarding the failure of a Federal Air Marshal to properly secure his law enforcement equipment when entering India," the TSA statement said. "The equipment included two pistol magazines and ammunition, which is consistent with duty equipment issued to Federal Air Marshals for duty carry."

"The Federal Air Marshal Service takes such incidents seriously; agency policy requires Federal Air Marshals to adhere to international agreements to secure their law enforcement equipment when entering a foreign country. Federal Air Marshals found to have violated these agreements are subject to the full range of disciplinary measures up to and including removal."


CNN's Harmeet Shah Singh and Drew Griffin contributed to this report