A Wyandanch man facing drug charges who smuggled a loaded gun into the Suffolk courthouse in Central Islip hid the weapon in his crotch, a law enforcement source said.
Sheriff's officers doing a routine pat-down Friday morning found the handgun after Suffolk police transported Akini Alukowatson, 21, to the detention center inside the courthouse, the source said.
At the time, Alukowatson was due to be arraigned in First District Court on crack cocaine- and marijuana-possession charges.
Criminal suspects are typically searched several times before their first court appearance: at the time of their arrest; when they arrive at a precinct holding cell or the jail; before they're taken to the courthouse; and at the courthouse detention center, the source said.
It remains unclear how the .380-caliber Cobra semiautomatic weapon avoided detection through Alukowatson's arrest and initial detention.
About six hours after his arrest, the miniature gun was found at the courthouse concealed in a black pouch, court records show.
Suffolk police say they are investigating the incident. Officials did not answer detailed questions posed by Newsday about the security breach Wednesday.
Suffolk prosecutors and the county bar association did not return calls. Sheriff's office chief of staff Michael Sharkey declined to comment.
Alukowatson was searched at least once by Suffolk police when he was arrested early Friday on the drug charges, court records show.
To minimize the risk of escape, suspects are handcuffed together before they are driven to the Suffolk courthouse garage. They are then taken upstairs to the detention center before being escorted to a courtroom, the source said.
An offender concealing a weapon would place officers in the detention center at risk because they are not allowed to carry firearms and they remove suspects' handcuffs while conducting searches, the source said.
Alukowatson, who is unemployed, now faces two additional charges: criminal possession of a weapon and introducing contraband to a detention center, both felonies.