Garland issued a memo listing dozens of cases that the Federal Aviation Administration has submitted to the FBI to investigate violent air travel incidents. Referrals are the result of an information sharing system between institutions.
The memorandum also instructs prosecutors to coordinate with state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies within the next 20 days to ensure that the incident is referred to the FBI and U.S. prosecutors for federal prosecution.
Garland said in a statement from the Department of Justice: “Passengers who attack, intimidate, or threaten to use violence against crew members and flight attendants will not only harm these employees; they will also prevent the performance of key responsibilities that help ensure safe air travel.”
The FAA has received 5,338 reports of unruly passengers, of which about three-quarters are related to federal transportation of masks, and has launched more than 1,000 investigations.
It has publicly disclosed that it imposed fines of more than $1.6 million on passengers accused of violent or misconduct, including fines of more than $161,000 on eight passengers announced this week.
According to data from the airline data tracking service company Cirium, overall, the number of domestic flights from last weekend to New Year’s Day has fallen by 12% compared to the same period in 2019.
Greg Wallace and Chris Isidore of CNN contributed to this report.
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