A TSA bag screening checkpoint
Patdowns and bag screening by TSA agents pale in comparison to the darker side of the TSA. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

A drug smuggling ring involving Transportation Security Administration personnel and law enforcement officers has been thwarted by federal agents. The smuggling ring moved thousands of oxycodone pills from Florida to New England.

Something rotten in the state of TSA

After a five-month investigation by federal authorities, three TSA agents have been arrested along with two police officers, according to NBC Connecticut, for taking part in a massive drug smuggling ring.

According to the Washington Post, the Drug Enforcement Agency was tipped off in April of a man carrying large amounts of oxycodone. He was arrested on April 8 in Stamford, Conn. and agreed to help the DEA arrest others involved.

Multi-state drug ring involved police

Up to 8,000 oxycodone pills were smuggled per shipment from Florida to New York and into Connecticut. The informant, who isn’t named, made at least 65 trips from Florida to New York. When arrested, he confessed to more than a year of operation, transporting the pills through airports or by car.

TSA agents John Best and Christopher Allen of Palm Beach International airport and Brigitte Jones of the Westchester County airport were paid to ensure pills got through airport security. Justin Kolves, a Florida state trooper, and Michael Brady, a Westchester, N.Y., police officer also took bribes to ensure safe transport. The accused face up to 20 years in prison.

Previous TSA drug trafficking

This isn’t the first time a TSA agent has gotten caught in a drug trafficking plot. According to the Wall Street Journal, a behavioral detection officer for the TSA named Minnetta Walker last month admitted to aiding a drug dealer. She said she routinely helped Derek Frank and his associates get around airport security. Frank would travel with cash, purchase marijuana in Arizona and mail it to Buffalo, N.Y. A fake birth certificate for Frank, complete with fingerprints, was also provided by a former Buffalo city clerk’s office employee.

According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, a TSA agent and two customs officers were sentenced in September of 2010 for a heroin and cocaine smuggling operation. In 2008, two TSA employees and a Delta Airlines employee in Georgia were caught conspiring to smuggle cocaine from Atlanta to New York, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

TSA behaving badly

There have also been cases of thefts by TSA employees. According to The Consumerist, TSA agents at JFK International admitted in February to stealing up to $160,000 in cash, including $39,000 from a single passenger. A TSA supervisor at Newark International was caught allowing an employee to steal money in 2010. The supervisor, Michael Arato, received kickbacks from the $10,000 to $30,000 stolen from passengers, up to $700 per day over a period of several months.

A TSA agent was caught in July stealing a passenger’s iPad and trying to smuggle it out in his pants, according to the Broward-Palm Beach New Times. The agent, Nelson Santiago, stole electronics and sold them online. He allegedly stole an estimated $50,000 of electronics equipment during a six-month period. In 2009, according to Hotair.com, TSA screener Pythias Brown, who also worked at Newark, was caught pulling a similar operation, selling stolen electronics on eBay. He stole and sold up to $400,000 in electronic goods. Nearly 500 TSA agents have been fired or suspended for theft.


NBC Connecticut: http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/TSA-Agents-Cops-Arrested-in-Oxycodone-Bust-129720708.html

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/feds-in-conn-charge-3-tsa-officers-2-cops-and-others-in-scheme-to-distribute-painkiller/2011/09/13/gIQAL2c9PK_story.html

Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/AP63b743780ba74942aad3b5401803fa9e.html

South Florida Sun-Sentinel: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2010-09-29/news/fl-customs-officials-arrested-20100929_1_customs-agents-undercover-agent-heroin-and-cocaine

The Consumerist: http://consumerist.com/2011/02/tsa-screeners-at-jfk-admit-to-stealing-160k-from-passengers.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

MSNBCt: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41585081/ns/travel-news/#.Tm-LgWWP-_0

Broward-Palm Beach New Times: http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/pulp/2011/07/tsa_agent_nelson_santiago_ipad_grand_theft.php

Hot Air: http://hotair.com/archives/2011/06/20/tsa-theft-of-passenger-valuables-a-nationwide-problem/

Post By bryanh (1,420 Posts)


Do you have a fantastic idea related to this article, but just don't have the money you need to start your own company or side-business? Get the loans you need from https://personalmoneynetwork.com to help get your new company underway, from the small loan professionals at PersonalMoneyNetwork.

PG&E to pay $70 million for pipeline tragedy

PG&E to pay $70 million for pipeline tragedy

Pacific Gas and Electric Co., a northern California utility, has agreed to pay $70 million to the California town of San Bruno for a pipeline explosion that killed eight people in 2010. Company says it’s remorseful The San Francisco-based power company’s president, Chris Johns, released a statement Monday, saying PG&E is sorry and eager to […]

Judge stabbed and deputy shot in Washington courthouse

Grays Harbor County Courthouse

Following a standoff in a Washington state county courtroom Friday, a man reportedly escaped after shooting a sheriff’s deputy in the shoulder and stabbing a judge in the neck. The man is still at large. Treachery among the tree farms The incident occurred Friday afternoon in the western Washington town of Montesano, which bills itself […]

Microraptor was one flashy little dinosaur

Microraptor fossil

A team of Chinese and American scientists have found that Microraptor, a small four winged dinosaur that went extinct about 130 million years ago, was likely black and almost certainly had glossy, iridescent feathers. Until now, the coloring of extinct creatures was a matter of pure speculation. That may no longer be the case. The […]

Autocorrected message leads to school lockdown

Homage to the Sun

Adjacent schools in Georgia were locked down for two hours Wednesday after a text message reportedly warned of a “gunman” on campus. Later, it was learned that the message was the result of a smartphone autocorrect function, attempting to “fix” the misspelled slang word “gunna.” A series of mixups A series of mixups led to […]