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Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday called on U.S. prosecutors to prioritize federal crimes prosecutions on commercial aircraft as the holiday travel season kicks off.
In a memo , Garland urged federal prosecutors to communicate directly with law enforcement regarding incidents on commercial flights that violate federal laws, and to encourage reporting of crimes in a 'comprehensive and timely ' manner. .
Garland's directive comes in the middle of a an " increase in reports of criminal behavior on thefts . The Federal Aviation Administration said on Tuesday it had received approximately "5,338 reports unruly passenger behavior since the start of the year.
Of these reports, 3,856 were related to masks. Transport Security Administration fine " doubled for passengers who refuse to comply with the federal mask mandate for air travel in September. However, flight attendants applying the warrant on commercial flights were "still worried about physical attacks from travelers.
In October, President Joe Biden a "instructed the Justice Department to "handle the growing number of reported incidents of violence aboard commercial flights .
Garland said on Wednesday, the busy travel day prior to Thanksgiving, that he was concerned about the increase in criminal behavior that threatens the safety of flight attendants, flight crews and passengers.
"Passengers who assault, intimidate or threaten violence against flight crews and flight attendants do more than harm these employees; they prevent the performance of essential tasks that help ensure the safety of air travel, "the attorney general said in a report. " Likewise, when passengers commit acts of violence against other passengers in the cramped enclosure of a commercial aircraft, driving endangers everyone on board. "
In Wednesday's memo, Garland also discussed the establishment of the aircraft. 'a protocolfor sharing information between the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Justice. This has already resulted in dozens of incidents being referred to the FBI for investigation, he noted.
More than 1,012 investigations and 266 execution cases have been opened since the start of this year, according to FAA data on Tuesday. .
"The Department of Justice is committed to using its resources to do its part to prevent violence, intimidation, threats of violence and other criminal behavior that danger the safety of passengers, flight crew and flight attendants on commercial airplane flights, "Garland said in the memo.
On Monday, the FAA proposed $ 161,823 in civil penalties against eight passengers for alleged unruly behavior related to the alcohol. The agency has received approximately 300 reports of passenger disruption due to alcohol andintoxication since the start of this year, according to a press release from the agency.
One of the passengers is accused of drinking his own alcohol during the flight, according to the press release. After a flight attendant told them it was forbidden, the passenger allegedly sexually assaulted them.
Earli this month, U.S. prosecutors in Colorado charged a Californian with 20 years of assaulting a flight attendant on an October 27, flight from American "Airlines to California which forced the plane to land, Reuters reported.
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker called the incident "a the worst manifestations of unruly behavior we have ever witnessed. "
Paul Hartshorn, spokesperson for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, who represents more than 20,000 American Airlines cabin crew, said incidents with unruly passengers were "out of control.
"C 'really got to the point where we have to defend ourselves, "Hartshorn a "told CNBC in June .