Three women were arrested at Nashville International Airport this week on charges of engaging in a “ghost bag” operation, according to local police.
WSMV-TV reports that the arrest took place after Southwest Airlines notified law enforcement about a bag that arrived at BNA loaded with expensive clothing, receipts, a credit card and a fake driver’s license.
The three women arrived at the airport to pick up the bag and were detained shortly after. Police later seized gift cards worth over $20,000, receipts and merchandise valued at $9,000 from their vehicle.
According to police, the women are suspected of buying clothing using stolen credit card information and subsequently returning the items to various stores to obtain cash or store credit.
Those arrested were Johniesha Jones, 34, Cherish Lynn Harris, 22 and Torryiel Griggs, 30.
All three women are facing charges of theft and fraud and are currently being detained at the Davidson County Jail. Jones is also facing charges of criminal impersonation and evading justice.
“Ghost bag” operations involve someone checking a bag into a particular destination but then not traveling with it, leaving someone else to pick it up from the airport carousel on the other end.
They are usually employed for drug smuggling operations and other criminal activities.
One passenger, named Jennifer Larson, told WSMV she felt uncomfortable with the idea of “ghost bags” being transported alongside her personal luggage.
“It’s kind of scary to think that people can put whatever they want in a piece of luggage and ship it,” said Larson ahead of her flight to South Dakota.
“I hope that they regulate that if a bag doesn’t have a passenger with it. then they don’t let the bag get on the plane. I mean, that’s common sense. If you are not on the plane, your bag shouldn’t be on the plane.”
Another passenger, by the name of Tracey Prue, admitted that the system is vulnerable to potential criminal activities.
“These criminals are just looking for any way to manipulate the system,” Prue said. “Baggage claim is so easy to pick up someone else’s bags.”
“It’s been like that for years, so when you are on top of things, when you are flying, just make sure you are aware your bag is in there. Just be aware of your surroundings. If you see a bag going around by itself with nobody around, maybe let someone know.”