TSA Employees Charged In $100 Million Drug Trafficking Ring

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TSA Employees Charged In $100 Million Drug Trafficking Ring

Rosa Emilia Rodriguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, recently announced that twelve members of a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) drug ring had been arrested. They have been charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.

The drug ring is reportedly responsible for permitting 20 tons of cocaine into the U.S.

According to FoxNews, six of these persons were current or former TSA workers who were employed as security and baggage screeners.

The drug trafficking ring was first launched nearly 20 years ago – in 1998. The estimated street value of the cocaine shipments that were smuggling through security is around $100 million. Up to five smugglers at a time would board a plane out of Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Puerto Rico, trafficking about 15 kilograms of cocaine each flight.

Javier Ortiz, a baggage handler for Airport Aviation Services, reportedly picked up the suitcases filled with cocaine and placed them into X-ray machines. The machines were monitored by the TSA personnel under suspicion and were cleared for boarding. According to prosecutors, Ortiz paid the TSA workers for their role in the trafficking.

In the recent past, there have been other incidences in which TSA employees were involved in drug trafficking. In September 2011, three TSA agents and two police officers were arrested in Connecticut for accepting bribes to allow oxycodone to be trafficking around the United States. They were apprehended as part of a much larger Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sting known as “Operation Blue Coast.”

Also in April, 2012, four screeners at LAX were arrested for accepting bribes to permit large shipments of cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine through security.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

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