RMAF officer detained in Texas just before flight home

A pair of unloaded pistols.

KUALA LUMPUR - A Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) officer has been detained by authorities in the United States for allegedly trying to smuggle a PT-22 Taurus pistol.

The officer was detained on April 16 at the San Angelo Airport in Texas, where he was to make his trip home after completing a course at the nearby Good Fellow Air Force Base, an RMAF statement here said yesterday.

He had been attending the course since Jan 5.

The statement said the officer is currently under police detention and is expected to be brought to court on April 21.

"The RMAF is closely following developments on the case to determine the next course of action," the statement added.

The officer faces a jail term of up to 10 years upon conviction for the smuggle attempt.

Confirming the arrest, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said police here have received information about the detention, adding that the officer would have to face the laws of the United States.

"There is nothing we can do about it.

"He will have to face the law of that country for what he has done.

"On our side we want to know why he wanted to smuggle in the pistol," Khalid told reporters after pinning the "Commandant Medal" to police volunteer reserve officer Supt Paul Lajumin.

Online news portals had reported the Malaysian officer, said to be holding the rank of major, was arrested after San Angelo authorities found the PT-22 calibre pistol, along with eight matching bullets in his luggage.

The reports stated that the weapon had been concealed between a bottle opener and a can opener, and wrapped tightly together with duct tape.

Investigations revealed the officer was believed to have bought the firearm while attending a weapons exhibition in Sweetwater and had wrapped it in such a manner to avoid detection by Malaysian authorities.

The first two vendors had allegedly refused to sell the pistol on account of the major not being American, but a third vendor had sold it to him for US$200 (S$250), according to reports.