Originally published November 25 2015
Do you feel safer yet? TSA agents indicted for smuggling cocaine
by Daniel Barker
(NaturalNews) In the latest scandal involving the agency, three TSA-contracted screeners have been arrested on charges of defrauding the government and smuggling cocaine through San Francisco International Airport (SFO). The arrests were made after an indictment was unsealed on November 9.
The three are accused of allowing shipments of real and "simulated" cocaine to pass through security screening in exchange for a fee. Apparently, although it's not entirely clear from the language used in the Justice Department press release, at least some of five shipments in question which occurred in 2013 and 2014 were actually part of a joint undercover sting operation carried out by the Drug Enforcement Administration and TSA-Office of Inspection.
From the Justice Department:
"The defendants all were assigned to SFO. The defendants arranged for passengers carrying narcotics in their carry-on luggage to pass through the x-ray machine at a security checkpoint line without adequately screening the luggage for explosives, incendiaries, weapons, or other threats to security. ...
"...in each instance, the defendant responsible for the x-ray machine failed to call for a secondary screening of the baggage or alert law enforcement or a supervisor to the presence of suspected narcotics. In each case, the drugs and simulated drugs were smuggled as part of undercover operations performed by the Drug Enforcement Administration and TSA-Office of Inspection designed to determine the scope and nature of the conspiracy."
The screening agents allegedly made arrangements with would-be smugglers, allowing them to pass through particular security checkpoints where their luggage would not be opened or given a second inspection after being x-rayed.
The three screeners, who worked for Covenant Aviation Security, a private company under contract with the TSA, have all been charged with one count of conspiring to defraud the TSA by obstructing a lawful government function, which carries a maximum five year prison term, and a second count of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years.
Tip of the iceberg?One wonders just how many TSA agents throughout the country are involved in airport security check smuggling operations.
"Security checkpoints are somewhat of a utopian idea, and they never seem to work because the incentive of ... high-priced black market goods causes people to go [to] great lengths to smuggle things. That same incentive corrupts security agents into becoming contraband smugglers themselves."
That would seem to be the case – at least at SFO. In March, there was a similar case involving TSA agents at San Francisco International Airport who allowed shipments of meth to pass through security.
"Two TSA screeners working at SFO were allegedly involved in a plot involving a third individual to smuggle multiple pounds of methamphetamine through security checkpoints in carry-on luggage. ... all three were arrested Friday in connection with the operation, which was surveilled, in part, through accessing Facebook messages sent between the three."
It's pretty easy to imagine that this type of thing is also happening elsewhere, in other airports across the country.
Given the poor track record of the agency, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if the smuggling practices were as endemic and widespread as the other abuses the TSA is infamous for.
These busts remind me a bit of the kind of occasional, staged, high-profile arrests the Mexican authorities like to trot out in front of the public, while they turn their backs on and profit from the real action.
As long as the TSA has almost unbridled authority and the backing of a government that seeks to erode personal freedoms while promoting corruption and criminality, not much is likely to change at the ol' security checkpoint.
Just saying ...
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