DEA Arrests Tainted TSA Agents in Los Angeles
In a press release from this week, the DEA has announced the arrest of four TSA screeners, two active and two no longer with the agency. The four are charged with helping smugglers get shipments of cocaine, meth and marijuana through the screening process and security checkpoints.
Along with these arrests, the DEA has also detained two drug couriers, although details about charges against them have not been released. It is possible that the couriers have turned state’s evidence or plea bargained for testimony against the TSA agents.
How much money was involved?
So how much does it cost to get a pass from TSA? According to the release, on at least five separate occasions, agents were paid up to $2,400 to let suitcases with narcotics go past X-ray unmolested.
This all happened at LAX and the Acting Special Agent in Charge for the DEA there said, “This case underscores the unique nature of 21st century drug smuggling. Here, the defendants traded on their positions at one the world’s most crucial airport security checkpoints, used their special access for criminal ends, and compromised the safety and security of their fellow citizens for their own profit.”
All of the defendants have been charged with conspiracy, along with other charges specific to the drugs being smuggled. They were captured after one of the mules failed to follow a conspirator’s directions and ended up in a line where none of the TSA agents were on the smuggler’s payroll. The mule was found carrying cocaine and arrested. This arrest then led to sting style operations against other TSA agents in on the scheme.
In some cases, smugglers would pay half the bribe up front and then, after going through security, meet the tainted agent in a restroom and pay the other half. The list of those arrested and the specifics can be found on the DEA website. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.