Federal authorities announced last week that four people were arrested on federal drug trafficking charges in relation to an alleged scheme that includes bribes of Transportation Security Administration scanners at LAX. Two former screeners and two current screeners were arrested last Tuesday and Wednesday after a federal investigation reportedly linked the TSA screeners to a drug trafficking scheme.
Officials claim that Feb. 2, 2011, an alleged drug courier arranged to have a TSA screener look the other way as nearly 5 kilograms of cocaine was to pass through an X-ray machine at LAX, according to a federal indictment. Authorities claim that the courier went to the wrong terminal on that day and federal authorities seized the cocaine.
The Drug Enforcement Administration says that a former TSA agent allegedly orchestrated five separate drug deals between alleged drug couriers and TSA agents at LAX. The four people linked to the TSA and three alleged drug couriers were named in a 22-count federal drug crimes indictment that issued April 25.
The indictment alleges that the former TSA agent arranged for couriers to carry drugs through LAX airport checkpoints through allegedly bribing TSA agents or screeners. Five separate incidents are alleged in the federal indictment. The TSA workers are accused of taking bribes to pass marijuana, cocaine or methamphetamine through airport security on five occasions between February and July 2011.
The indictment alleges that the Former TSA agent who arranged the drug trafficking deals also apparently worked to arrange the alleged couriers, or mules, to carry the drugs through security.
The DEA claims that after the alleged courier went to the wrong terminal in February 2011, an undercover DEA operative conducted stings by working through the alleged mastermind of the TSA bribery scheme to set up deals to bribe TSA agents or screeners to pass drugs through airport security. The government created alleged crimes in the sting operation appear to be, at least part, of the evidence against those accused of participating.
The current and former TSA workers face life sentences if convicted of the federal bribery and drug crimes. The former TSA agent accused of making the arrangements reportedly was fired by the TSA in 2010 for undisclosed reasons.
Source: Los Angeles Daily Breeze, “4 TSA screeners at LAX arrested for allegedly taking bribes,” Art Marroquin, April 25, 2012