DOJ: TSA screeners arrested for drug trafficking

Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

Federal investigators arrested two former and two current Transportation Security Administration screeners on charges of taking bribes to allow cocaine and other drugs through airport security in Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

The sweep of arrests happened last night and this morning. DOJ alleges that the TSA screeners took $2,400 bribes each of the five times they let suitcases filled with drugs pass through airport security screening.

Capeline McKinney, a TSA screener, was arrested this morning for allegedly allowing "more than 20 kilograms of cocaine to pass through her security checkpoint," the Department of Justice announced today.

John Whitfield, another TSA screener who was arrested last night, is accused of "personally allowing more than 20 kilograms of cocaine to pass through LAX security."

Whitfield and McKinney allegedly acted under the instruction of Naral Richardson, a former TSA screener who "is accuse of orhcestrating five incidents in which TSA screeners agreed to waive narcotics through security checkpoints."

A fourth TSA officer, who was fired 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."

"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," said U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte, Jr., in a statement.

The scheme began to unravel in February 2011, when a courier was arrested "because he had not only gone to the wrong lane, he had gone to the wrong terminal," according to court documents, and a TSA officer found his drug cargo.


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