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TSA Agents Caught Smuggling 20 Tons of Cocaine

Drug smugglers are some nasty folks. But when they are also law-enforcement or security employees of the federal government, you have a first-class catastrophe on your hands. Not only are the drugs being smuggled, but criminal federal employees make the process a whole lot more efficient.

The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) has received much deserved criticism since its inception. Incompetence has been one charge made against the agency and its employees, although that claim is hardly unique to the TSA. Yet when TSA agents actually compromise their positions by engaging in criminal behavior while on the job, the seriousness is raised to a much higher level.

The responsibility of the  US Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) is to prevent terrorists and other criminals from using the airlines as vehicles for committing crimes. It has frequently been the target of criticism due to incompetence as well as what the agents are required to put travelers through. Now we can add drug-smuggling to that list of failings.

On February 8, 2017, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned a superseding indictment against twelve defendants charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.

During the course of the conspiracy, the defendants smuggled suitcases, each containing at least 8 to 15 kilograms of cocaine, through the TSA security system at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (LMMIA). Sometimes as many as five mules were used on each flight, with each mule checking-in up to two suitcases. From 1998 through 2016, the defendants helped smuggle approximately 20 tons of cocaine through LMMIA.

That amounts to twenty tons of cocaine smuggled into the US by TSA agents over an 18-year period. How could such an enormous project go undetected for almost 20 years? That represents an incredible failure of the TSA.

“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.”

“This investigation was initiated by TSA as part of its efforts to address employee misconduct and specific insider threat vulnerabilities. TSA has zero tolerance for employees engaged in criminal activity to facilitate contraband smuggling,” said José Baquero, Federal Security Director, PR and USVI.

AirTAT is a special government law enforcement agency charged with the responsibility to, among other things, keep the TSA honest. This is clear from the statement that its purpose is to, “ensure that our airports are not used in the drug traffickers’ illicit businesses.”

Given the colossal failure of the TSA to police even its own agents for 18 years, it’s obvious that AirTAT had a real job to do. Congratulations to those agents who successfully broke up this government-sponsored cocaine smuggling ring.

Now all that needs to be done is to keep the folks at AirTAT honest as the drug war continues on.

From TAA.