Reports from the Department of Justice revealed that 12 former and current Transportation Safety Administration employees were indicted for smuggling 20 tons of cocaine which is worth $100 million out of Puerto Rico over the course of an 18-year operation.
It’s no surprise since the TSA agents have a track record of breaking laws and running drugs. The DOJ press release that came from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico stated that during the entire course of the conspiracy, the defendants smuggled suitcases and each contained 8 to 15 kilograms of cocaine, the unfortunate incidence took place through the TSA security system at the Luis Munoz International Airport.
Initial reports claimed that the operation spanned from 2008 to 2016 and 1,500 kilograms of cocaine were moved. Ongoing investigation unearthed an additional ten years of misconduct. TSA agents from Puerto Rico were indicted by a federal grand jury on the 8th of February and charged with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.
The DOJ press release reported that six current and former employees José Cruz-López, Luis Vázquez-Acevedo, Keila Carrasquillo, Carlos Rafael Adorno-Hiraldo, Antonio Vargas-Saavedra, and Daniel Cruz-Echevarría worked as TSA screeners who monitored both checked and carry-on luggage. It was reported that they allegedly smuggled multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine while employed as TSA officers at the San Juan airport.
Two defendants and Luis Vázquez-Acevedo acted as the facilitators between TSA employees and the cocaine supplier, an airport security employee. Javier Ortiz also happened to be another defendant who worked for the Airport Aviation Services as a baggage handler and ramp employee. Ortiz would selectively pick the suitcases that contained the cocaine at the airline check in counter and place them into X-ray machines that were manned by TSA agents involved in the plot, after which he would take the suitcases to the designated flights. The carefully planned scheme ensured that no narcotic K-9 unit or Law enforcement personnel noticed.
The DEA and the TSA initiated the investigation into the drug trafficking operation. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security is collaborating with the two agencies alongside the FBI, the U.S. Marshals, and the police of Puerto Rico.