Federal Agents Arrest Airline Employees In International Drug Smuggling
By Mike Mitchell
April 29, 2011 - Federal agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested 12 individuals on Thursday for their role in two drug smuggling operations out of U.S. airports.
All of the individuals have been charged with drug
trafficking and related charges to include conspiracy,
possession with intent to distribute and illegal
importation of narcotics.
"Arrests and charges close a major vulnerability at the airport," said ICE Director John Morton. We can't have people working in and around aircraft exploiting their positions for criminal ends.
?Airplanes are for lawful travel not drug dealing. For those on the inside thinking about abusing their access to planes for money, think again. We are watching. We are looking. Whether it takes months or years, whether the trail leads to Detroit, Houston, or Montego Bay, we will investigate you, we will prosecute you, we will put you in jail."
The investigation called, "Operation Excess Baggage," began in
January 2010 when HSI special agents from the ICE's attach?
office in Kingston, Jamaica, contacted Detroit-based HSI special
agents to alert them of a seizure by Jamaican Customs of
approximately 53 pounds of marijuana.
The seizure was discovered in a suitcase on Northwest Airlines
(now Delta) flight # 2321 which was bound for Detroit
Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) from Sangster
International Airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
HSI special agents in Detroit immediately notified U.S. Customs
and Border Protection (CBP) officers at DTW. HSI agents, along
with CBP officers, seized an additional five suitcases
containing nearly 16 kilograms of cocaine and close to 130
kilograms of marijuana. Preliminary investigative findings
suggested internal involvement of employees of Delta/Northwest.
During a March 18, 2010 surveillance operation, agents seized an
additional 45 pounds of marijuana from two Delta/Northwest
employees at DTW. It is alleged that these individuals were
participants in a separate smuggling operation between Houston
and Detroit. A separate Houston-based investigation was then
During a March 18, 2010 surveillance operation, agents seized an additional 45 pounds of marijuana from two Delta/Northwest employees at DTW. It is alleged that these individuals were participants in a separate smuggling operation between Houston and Detroit. A separate Houston-based investigation was then launched.
Earlier this month, 12 sealed complaints for individuals known to have
been participants in these narcotics smuggling conspiracies were issued
by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Ten
were issued for current or former Delta/Northwest employees stationed at
DTW or at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) in Houston,
Texas. Two additional warrants were issued for individuals involved in
the scheme who were not airline employees.
The Jamaican/Detroit trafficking operation suspects have been charged
with importation of controlled substances and possession of controlled
substances with intent to distribute and conspiracy: Glenford Stephens,
Kevin Jernigan, Cordell Coke, Huram Josephs, Rex Lee, and Christopher
The Houston/Detroit trafficking operation are being charged with
possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute and
conspiracy: Clifford Skinner, Kelvin Atwater, LaDale Callaway and
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