Passengers on the Alaska Airlines flight that had a panel loss may have been the victims of a crime, according to the FBI.

Seattle, WA: Passengers aboard the Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max who experienced the mid-flight loss of a door-plug panel have been informed by the FBI that they may be the targets of a criminal investigation.

“I’m contacting you because we have identified you as a possible victim of a crime,” wrote a victim specialist from the federal agency’s Seattle office in the letters mailed to passengers this week. The Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into this matter at this time.

On January 5, the panel burst, creating a huge hole in the side of the plane as it was traveling 16,000 feet (4,800 meters) over Oregon. People on board felt the effects of suction as air rushed in through the hole and oxygen masks fell from the ceiling as cabin pressure quickly dropped.

All 171 passengers and 6 staff members made it safely to Portland, Oregon, after the pilots skillfully landed the plane. After the jet was serviced at a Boeing facility in Renton, Washington, four bolts that were supposed to secure the panel were apparently missing, according to investigators.

Allegedly, the United States Justice Department has begun a criminal investigation into whether the panel blowout was in violation of the conditions of a 2021 deal that allowed Boeing to avoid prosecution for allegedly manipulating regulators who certified the 737 Max. This comes after claims in the media and statements made by government officials.

Two Boeing Max jet crashes in 2018 and 2019 resulted in a total of 346 casualties, prompting the settlement.

The Associated Press was provided with the FBI letter by Mark Lindquist, a lawyer who is representing a number of passengers on the Alaska Airlines flight in a lawsuit against Boeing. To facilitate the exchange of inquiries and grievances, the notice provided the receivers with an email address, phone number, case number, and personal identity number.

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No mention of Boeing was included in the FBI letter, and the company chose not to comment on Friday. “We are fully cooperating and do not believe we are a target of the investigation,” Alaska Airlines stated.

Boeing is the subject of three independent investigations: one by the National Transportation Safety Board, one by the Federal Aviation Administration, and one by the Justice Department.

The probe by the Justice Department is welcomed by Lindquist and his clients, according to him.

After claiming a few years ago that the relatives of Max accident victims did not qualify as victims under the law, the Justice Department has now reversed its position and decided to identify the Alaska passengers as possible crime victims.

But a Texas federal judge found that the families were eligible. He claimed that the Justice Department was required by law to inform them of the 2021 settlement’s covert talks with Boeing.