TSA Drug Smuggling in LA is Ultimate Betrayal, Says Ex-Chief
Ex-TSA chief called the smuggling "treason."
Two former and current TSA employees were indicted Wednesday on federal drug trafficking and bribery charges.
The 22-count indictment outlined how the employees took payments of up to $2400 to provide drug couriers unfettered access at Los Angeles International Airport over a six month period last year.
Duane Eleby, a suspected drug courier, was ready to sneak 10 pounds through a security checkpoint at the airport this past February. Mistakenly, Eleby went to the wrong terminal and was discovered by an agent not involved in the scheme.
"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.
The documents showed that Eleby was to use a secure tunnel linking two terminals after he was allowed through security. Despite his arrest, the attempts to smuggle drugs continued but authorities were carefully watching. At one point, 44 pounds of cocaine were let through. None of the drugs ever made it to their final destinations.
Kip Hawley, who ran TSA for close to 4 years, said the act was a disgrace.
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"This is about as bad as it gets," says Kip Hawley, who ran the TSA for nearly four years, "because it's compromising security and could potentially endanger the flying public."
Hawley also said the agency needs an overhaul.
If convicted all 4 face a minimum of 10 years in prison. The two current workers are under suspension.