Coast Guard Arrests Suspect in Laser Targeting Case

Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is a felony offense under 18 U.S. Code Section 39A.

A man was arrested Jan. 17 by Coast Guard Investigative Services officers investigating multiple laser strikes on a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin Helicopter crew in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the Coast Guard announced.

The helicopter landed safely June 12, 2018, after its crew observed a green laser multiple times in the cockpit during flight operations.

Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is a felony offense under 18 U.S. Code Section 39A, which states: "Whoever knowingly aims the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, or at the flight path of such an aircraft, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both."

"This type of crime affects the Coast Guard in a profound way since it impairs the ability to respond to rescues at sea and detect vessels involved in criminal acts, and could cause serious injury to the pilot's eyesight," said Miguel Angel Rivera-Cuadrado, Coast Guard Investigative Services special agent in charge in San Juan. "We will continue to work hard to identify, arrest, and prosecute those that stand against the safety of the pilots and the intervention of the operations of the Coast Guard aircraft."

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