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DOJ Warns Public Not To Pick Up Wreckage Of Plane That Crashed Near Anahuac

It is a federal crime that could carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

NTSB Photo
NTSB investigators on shoreline of Trinity Bay examining wreckage from the Feb. 23, 2019 cargo jet crash in Texas.

The Department of Justice is warning the public that knowingly withholding any parts of the wreckage of a cargo plane that crashed near Anahuac on Saturday is a federal crime.

In a news release, the DOJ said an individual convicted of withholding part of a civil aircraft involved in an accident could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Atlas Air Flight 3591 left Miami at 11:30 a.m. EST, Saturday, Feb. 23, bound for Houston. At approximately 12:40 p.m. CST, the twin-engine Boeing 767 cargo jetliner crashed into Trinity Bay.

"It should be obvious to everyone, but do not pick up or remove pieces of the wreckage. It can interfere with the investigation and could lead to criminal charges," said Ryan K. Patrick, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas.

The FBI, which has sent an evidence recovery team to the site of the accident, also distributed the warning. The FBI has urged anyone with information, photos or videos regarding the incident or with knowledge of debris from the crash to call 1-800-CALL-FBI.

The NTSB and the FBI have asked area residents and businesses to check security cameras for possible video of the crash.

Search teams have recovered the bodies of Conrad Aska, the 44-year-old first officer and co-pilot of Atlas Air Flight 3591, and Sean Archuleta, a 36-year-old jump-seat passenger, according to a statement from Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne.

On Tuesday afternoon, Hawthorne reported that a cadaver dog found partial human remains believed to belong to the third victim of the accident. Crews are still searching for the victim’s body, and for the black boxes from the plane’s cockpit.

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