Need to Get Your Drugs Through LAX? Just Bribe a TSA Screener
Four TSA screeners were arrested for allegedly taking cash in exchange for letting suitcases full of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana to pass through checkpoints.
The allegations focus on two current and two former TSA screeners: Three were arrested this morning and one was arrested last night, according to a just-released U.S. Attorney's Office statement.
According to the statement, they were indicted for allegedly taking ...
... payments of as much as $2,400 to allow suitcases filled with drugs to pass through X-ray machines while TSA screeners looked the other way.
From February to July of 2011 the suspects worked the scheme, feds say. In one incident, three defendants colluded to bring five kilos of coke through a checkpoint ... but the drugs ended up at the wrong screening area and were seized, the U.S. Attorney's Office says.
In another caper one of the defendants was actually conspiring with a DEA informant to get eight pounds of meth through a checkpoint.
According to the office's allegations, those indicted include:
Naral Richardson, 30, of Los Angeles, who was arrested this morning. Richardson, who was terminated by TSA in 2010, is accused of orchestrating five incidents in which TSA screeners agreed to waive narcotics through security checkpoints.
John Whitfield, 23, of Los Angeles, who was arrested last night. Whitfield, a TSA screener who allegedly worked with Richardson to allow nearly four kilograms of methamphetamine to pass through LAX security, is also accused of personally allowing more than 20 kilograms of cocaine to pass through LAX security.
Joy White, 27, of Compton, who was arrested this morning. White, who was terminated by TSA last year, allegedly was stationed at LAX screening checkpoints when she allowed drugs to pass through, including a shipment of more than 20 kilograms of cocaine.
Capeline McKinney, 25, of Los Angeles, who was arrested this morning. McKinney is a TSA screener who allegedly allowed more than 20 kilograms of cocaine to pass through her security checkpoint.
Duane Eleby, 28, of Downey, who is expected to surrender to authorities tomorrow morning. Eleby allegedly attempted to bring almost five kilograms of cocaine through a security checkpoint, but his narcotics were seized by law enforcement when he went through the wrong security checkpoint.
Terry Cunningham, 28, of Los Angeles, an alleged drug courier, who is currently being sought by authorities.
Stephen Bayliss, 28, of Los Angeles, an alleged drug courier, who is currently is state custody.
The scheme got dozens of kilos of drugs through LAX, authorities say.
If convicted the suspects face 5 years to as much as a life term, in the case of Whitfield, White and McKinney, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Randy Parsons, TSA federal security director at LAX:
While these arrests are a disappointment, TSA is committed to holding our employees to the highest standards.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.
- Should Obama Deny Funding for Secretive LAPD Body Cams?
Sat., Sep. 5, 12:30pm
Sat., Sep. 5, 8:00pm
Sun., Sep. 6, 12:35pm
Sun., Sep. 6, 1:00pm
- Olympian Rhetoric Heralds a New Phase for a "Back to Basics" Mayor
- A Watts Redevelopment Project Continues to Get the Shaft, and City Councilman Buscaino...