TSA screeners charged with drug trafficking at LAX
(USA TODAY) Two current and two former Transportation Security Administration screeners were charged Wednesday with drug trafficking and bribery for allegedly allowing cocaine, speed and marijuana to pass through checkpoints at Los Angeles International Airport.
The indictment outlines five incidents where the screeners allegedly took payments as large as $2,400 to allow suitcases filled with drugs to pass through X-ray machines unhindered.
“The allegations in this case describe a significant breakdown of the screening system through the conduct of individuals who placed greed above the nation’s security needs,” U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said.
The defendants who were arrested Tuesday and Wednesday are:
–John Whitfield, 23, of Los Angeles, a screener who is charged with allowing nearly 20 kilograms of cocaine and 4 kilograms of methamphetamine to pass through security.
–Capeline McKinny, 25, of Los Angeles, a screener charged with allowing the cocaine to pass through security.
–Naral Richardson, 30, of Los Angeles, who was fired by TSA in 2010 and is accused of orchestrating the five incidents from February to July 2010.
–Joy White, 27, of Compton, who was fired by TSA last year and is charged with allowing the cocaine to pass through security.
In addition, Duane Eleby, 28, of Downey, who is expected to surrender to authorities Thursday after allegedly trying to bring nearly 5 kilograms of cocaine through a checkpoint. The drugs were seized when he went through the wrong line.
Stephen Bayliss, 28, of Los Angeles, who is an alleged drug courier, is also in custody. And Terry Cunningham, 28, of Los Angeles, who is an alleged drug courier, is being sought. They are charged with intending to distribute 22 kilograms of marijuana.
“TSA has assured the investigating agencies we will do everything we can to assist in their investigation,” said Randy Parsons, the agency’s federal security director at the airport.
Each defendant faces a maximum of life in prison.