In a case highlighting the infiltration of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) by transnational criminal organizations, twelve current and former TSA officers and airport staff were indicted for allegedly trafficking over 20 tons of cocaine — worth over $100 million — into the U.S. over a 28-year time frame.
Last Wednesday, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against the twelve defendants, who are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.
From 1988 to 2016 the conspirators allegedly smuggled about 40,000 pounds, or twenty tons, of cocaine through Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and into the United States, according to the DOJ.
The DOJ press release detailed how the massive trafficking operation allegedly worked.
“These individuals were involved in a conspiracy to traffic massive quantities of illegal narcotics to the continental United States,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “These arrests demonstrate the success of the AirTAT initiative, which has successfully allocated a dedicated group of state and federal law enforcement officers, whose mission is to ensure that our airports are not used in the drug traffickers’ illicit businesses.”
Defendants Edwin Francisco Castro, Luis Vázquez-Acevedo and Ferdinand López are alleged to have operated as facilitators between drug trafficking organizations and the TSA employees who smuggled the cocaine into the airplanes. Defendant Miguel Ángel Pérez-Rodríguez, an airport security company employee, was a source of supply of cocaine to the drug trafficking organization, according to the superseding indictment.
In November 2015, three former TSA agents were indicted on charges of defrauding the government and smuggling cocaine.
According to the indictment, 35-year old Joseph Scott, 32-year-old Michael Castaneda, and 27-year-old Jessica Scott, all former TSA agents at San Francisco International Airport, were involved in an ongoing operation to help transport drugs through airport security.
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