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drug dealers altering airbags

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  • drug dealers altering airbags


  • #2
    I assume the purpose of this is to serve as a booby-trap that could be activated while the officer is inside the vehicle doing a search? I have not heard of this and would have to think this would require a pretty high level of sophistication for the drug dealer to dismantle the airbag, insert the objects, re-assemble the unit and then rig some kind of triggering mechanism that they could remotely operate since it would not be advantageous for the drug dealer to kill themselves in the process.

    Now, this in no way means it has not happened. Unfortunately, in our society (at least in the USA) we need to be constantly mindful of the potential for such dangers wherever we go. If someone can confirm this being done, I would be very interested in details since I am a police officer and have some means to alert other cops to this potential danger.


    • #3
      Sounds like an urban legend.


      • #4
        Have you ever seen an airbag module? The airbags are so compressed in the module that I don't see anyone opening one up and squeezing small pointed objects in them and repacking the bag, which would then be punctured by the sharp objects, possibly preventing airbag inflation. Another urban legend.


        • #5
          Wasie205 - I believe this is what you are talking about. I found this article on another website.

          A representative with the National Transportation Safety Board reports a new potential hazard in vehicle airbag systems for rescuers: The compartments may contain deadly booby traps set by drug smuggling operations.

          Nancy McAtee, an explosion expert with the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB), has issued an e-mail reporting the NTSB has received information regarding a booby-trapped airbag compartment in a Ford Taurus that was linked to a narcotics investigation.

          Nothing was found during the initial vehicle search, but a police department K-9 unit alerted the officers to the front passenger side of the vehicle, stated McAtee.

          A subsequent search found wiring as well as other indications of a hidden compartment. An attempt to short-circuit the wires to activate the compartment resulted in an explosion of the booby trap, which damaged the interior panel of the front passenger side door.

          A police explosives unit responded to the scene and was able to activate the hidden compartment that was located inside the passenger airbag area. A further examination indicated that the passenger airbag was removed and the compartment modified.

          In addition, the carbon dioxide (CO2) canister that is usually associated with the airbag was also modified and rewired to the passenger door. It was learned that should the compartment be opened in any manner other than the designated way, the CO2 canister would be activated causing the passenger side door panels to explode.

          The NTSB has received information indicating that a drug smuggling organization is 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.

          These bundles are then connected to the triggering device of the airbag mechanism via a trip wire. Upon removal of the drug bundle (from the concealed compartment) the airbag mechanism device is activated resulting in an explosive release of nails, bolts, etc.

          Rescuers should exercise extreme caution when examining the passenger airbag area to determine if a concealed compartment is present, says McAtee. In addition, precaution should be taken so as not to position oneself directly in front of the airbag compartment.

          This information was confirmed with local police officials. They have instituted a policy whereby if an officer suspects a vehicle may fit this category, the officer is to back off and request a response by their explosive ordinance personnel.

          “This has been verified so no hoax here folks,” said MacAtee’s e-mail. She said it is not known how widespread the practice is, but “it is something to keep in mind.”

          Please pass this information on to your operating personnel.

          Copyright: NTSB

          I searched the NTSB website (not very well) and was not able to locate anything about this. I guess it is just something else we all need to be aware of these days. Hope this helps


          • #6
            I personally contacted the lady at NTSB who put out the email. I told her there was a descrepancy in the email that made me think it may be bogus (CO2 is not the expellant used to inflate the bags). She put me in contact with the individual that gave her the information. I am now waiting on a reply from him. I will post his repley as soon as I get it.


            • #7
              I guess when all else fails go directly to the source. Why didnt I think of that?


              • #8
                OK folks...here is the poop. The incident happened in the NE. And it is true. I sent out three emails trying to confirm the source and validity and all three replied confirming the hazard. Be safe....


                • #9
                  Originally posted by DColeman:
                  OK folks...here is the poop. The incident happened in the NE. And it is true. I sent out three emails trying to confirm the source and validity and all three replied confirming the hazard. Be safe....
                  Not to be sceptical... but where is this "officially" published at? The NTSB should have this on their website somewhere if they are the persons who confirmed this. Even the stories of the lock-jok killing an officer were "confirmed" but no one ever verified that and it turned out to be false.


                  • #10
                    I don't know how true this story is, but I can attest to the ease of removing and modifying an air bag.

                    Most drivers side bags can be removed in a matter of minutes, with simple hand tools. Some all it takes is a flat head screwdriver to push a few clips to the side, and others are only held in by a few 10mm nuts. The passanger side bags takes a little longer, say 30 minutes if you know what you doing, and requires a socket wrench, with a few differn size sockets. Both bags only have two wires going to them, generaly yellow/orange/blue in any combination, and simply unplug form the bag of the bags case.

                    Once the bags are out of the car, all you have to do is drill out a couple of rivets, or unscrew a few torx bolts to get the front cover off. Since the bags are nylon, you could just cut them out of the case, or place shrapnel between the bag, and the front cover.

                    Ofcourse if your just looking for a place to stash, your stash, you can get a deployed airbag from a salvage yard for nothing. Then just find a way to reattach the fron cover, and your in buisness.

                    BTW, I'm a full time firefighter / paramedic, who just happens to work at my GF's dads salvage yard on my off days. Never would of thought about using the air bag for contraban. Have to pass this info on to my taskforce buddies.

                    All comments are the opinion of the author, and not of any service they are a member of.


                    • #11
                      Does anyone know of a way to keep an air bag from deploying during rescue ops?

                      It is more to it than putting the wet stuff on the red stuff.


                      • #12
                        Just to further support H-1 Mech and DColeman posts, in the May 2001 issue of POLICE - THE LAW ENFORCEMENT MAGAZINE, on page 9 is an article that is almost verbatum to what H-1 Mech posted. The incident occurred to members of the DEA at Albany, NY who were working with the Rotterdam and Schenectady Police when they discovered the 1997 Taurus with the booby-trapped airbags. It still mentions the CO-2 cannister being involved. It lists DEA Special Agent Angel Calderon 212-337-2745 as a contact person.


                        • #13
                          To put everyone at rest, yes the incident did occur it was origninally reported by the Drug Enforcement Administration New York Division Unified Intelligence Division. Intelligence Notice 00-03, "Information on Booby Trapped Airbags".

                          The incident occurred on August 10, 2000. There were two ounces of crack cocaine seized and a 1997 Ford Taurus.

                          The initial search was conducted by the Rotterdam Police Department Canine Unit. The dog sniffed out the presence of drugs. The handler found an unusual wire indicating a hidden compartment.

                          When an attempt to hot wire the hidden compartment was performed, the booby trap deployed from passenger side door panel.

                          The NY State Police bomb squad was called in and to activate the hidden dompartment which was located where the passenger frontal airbag unit is usually housed.

                          The inflator unit was then installed into the passenger front door and wired to deploy if the hidden compartment was tampered with.

                          This is not the only incident that has occured, the report goes on to explain that the U.S. Customs has also found pouches of nails and bolts and are deployed when a trip wire is activated.

                          The story was reported to me by a NHTSA-DOT safety specialist. I then personally followed up by calling Special Agent Angel Calderon of the NY Unified Intelligence Divisiion.

                          There was one post that I would like to address regarding "keeping airbags from deploying". It is important that we learn how to recongnize and work around active airbags. This can be accomplished by distancing yourself from the airbags and performing power disconnect as soon as possible. DO NOT try to deactate the airbag systems, there are serious liability concerns. Trying to deactivate a system may also activate the airbags by those that are not properly trained to do so. It has been beaten to the ground on this and other forums by myself, Ron Moore and others... "the airbag manufacturers, the auto makers and NHTSA-DOT to do not want you to restrain or cut into any airbag system". This one statement says it all! Think of what could happen if you were to have a failure of the device or the attachment point(s). Learn to visually recognize hazards to responders, update yourself to the new technology, you won't be able to go to a new vehicle crash and start disarming every safety system. Learn to work with not against.

                          Stay Safe...

                          Ron Shaw

                          Ron Shaw


                          • #14
                            Just a personal note for all you good people out there protecting the public. There is a company out there that sells air bag covers only, for those that don't want the expense of replacing an $800 air bag.
                            That may pose some problems for the rescuers but if you buy a used car from anyone and suspect that it may have been "bumped" have a dealer or certified mechanic inspect it and make sure the bags are there and wired in properly. You and your family's lives may depend on it!


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