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Beware of Vehicles with Booby-trapped Airbags

April 01, 2001  | 

The San Diego Intelligence Collection Analysis Team (ICAT), California received information from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York Unified Intelligence Division about a booby-trapped airbag compartment in a Ford Taurus that could be used to kill and/or injure law enforcement officers. Officers are reminded to be alert and cautious.

On August 10, 2000 members of the DEA's Albany resident office and members from the Schenectady and Rotterdam Police Departments conducted a joint operation in which two ounces of crack cocaine were seized from a 1997 Ford Taurus.

A Rotterdam Police Department K-9 searched the passenger side of the vehicle and found wiring as well as other indications of a hidden com-partment. An attempt to short-circuit the wires to activate the compartment caused an explosion of the booby trap, which damaged the interior panel of the front passenger side door.

An Explosives Unit from the New York State Police was able to activate the hidden compartment, located inside the passenger airbag area. The passenger airbag was removed and the compartment modified so that if the compartment was opened in any manner other than the designated way, the CO2 canister usually associated with airbags would be activated causing the passenger side door panels to explode.

In related news, U.S. Customs –ICAT in El Paso, Texas has obtained information about a drug smuggling organization removing airbags and replacing them with pouches filled with nails, bolts and other small metal objects.

Bundles of drugs are reportedly placed into a hidden compartment located in another area of the dashboard. Upon removal of the drug bun-dle (from the concealed compartment) an airbag mechanism device is activated resulting in an explosive release of the nails, bolts, etc.

Officers should exercise extreme caution when examining passenger airbags for a concealed compartment. Officers should also make sure not to position themselves directly in front of the airbag compartment.

FIELD INTEL NOTE: The New York Unified Intelligence Division will continue to gather information on this subject and other officer safety issues. Any questions or comments regarding this notice may be directed to Special Agent Angel Calderon (212) 337- 2745 or Detective Ellen Friedman (212) 337-2723.

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