If a Mendocino County man thought he could sneak a bag full of dope past security agents at Sonoma County's small airport, he was mistaken.
Adam Morris, 21, was arrested Thursday after security screeners at Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport discovered marijuana, hashish and psychedelic mushrooms in a secret compartment of his bag, Sonoma County sheriff's deputies said.
Morris was preparing to board a 3 p.m. flight to Portland when screeners doing a routine X-ray inspection of checked baggage saw something unusual, Lt. Scott Dunn said.
As Transportation Security Administration agents more closely inspected Morris' otherwise normal-looking bag, they found a compartment that concealed a "significant" amount of illegal drugs, Dunn said.
The exact amounts weren't available late Friday.
"It was definitely more than for personal use," he said. "We're not talking pounds or brick loads of it, but it was a saleable quantity."
It's unknown how often contraband is transported through the single security checkpoint at the Sonoma County airport, but Dunn said it's not uncommon that someone is caught.
"It seems like about once a week that we've got somebody who has a small quantity of marijuana, the personal-use type," he said. "About once a month we do get significant quantities."
Nico Melendez, a TSA spokesman in Los Angeles, said his agency doesn't keep statistics on drugs or suspects captured trying to board a plane with drugs. They're more interested in finding weapons or explosive devices or bomb components.
"Drugs aren't something we're overtly looking for," he said. "If it was in a hidden compartment, anything could have been in there, a gun, a knife. So our responsibility is to make sure nothing is being introduced into the sterile area of an airport that could harm a passenger or airport."
In September, a Washington man was arrested after Santa Rosa TSA personnel reported finding 3 grams of cocaine, 3 grams of hashish and $21,000 in the baggage he tried to check before his flight to Seattle.
Last month, a Sonoma County judge ordered James Robarts, 50, of Redmond, Wash., to complete 200 hours of community service. If he completes the work by June 13, his case will be dismissed, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Morris was arrested on suspicion of felony possession of concentrated cannabis, possession of a controlled substance and possession of marijuana for sale and transportation. He is free on bail.
Dunn said Morris, who told officers he is unemployed, also had $3,800 in cash in the bag. Deputies seized the money as evidence, pending further investigation.
Morris told deputies he had medical permission to use marijuana, but Dunn said possession of even prescription amounts are prohibited in airports, which are under federal security jurisdiction. California allows the medicinal use of marijuana, but federal law does not.
Hallucinogenic mushrooms are illegal under any circumstances, Dunn said.
"People don't realize that anything that goes through our airport, regardless of whether it's a small, podunk airport, can end up in the belly of any airplane anywhere in the world," he said. "The screeners know they have a very serious job, and so they take it very seriously."
Staff writer Lori A. Carter can be contacted at 568-5312 and email@example.com.