San Francisco Airport security screeners charged with complicity in drug-smuggling

Three screeners working for Covenant Aviation Security — the TSA contractor that provides government-funded genital massages at SFO — have been arrested for alleged participation in a scheme to smuggle "real and simulated cocaine" onto planes.

I don't know what the "simulated cocaine" business is about — did they get burned by their suppliers and think they were helping to smuggle coke while really participating in an elaborate scheme to move large quantities of powdered Italian baby laxative around? Or were they shipping around something else that they planned on marketing as coke?

In any event, it's a reminder that whether the screeners are directly employed by the TSA or one of its contractors, they are just as prone to having crooks working for them as any other employer. The difference between the TSA and the rest of the world, though, is the culture of impunity that lets TSA massage-therapists and their private contractor counterparts get away with all sorts of naughtiness without consequence.

The indictment alleges that the three defendants conspired to use their positions as Transportation Security Officers to allow passengers to smuggle real and simulated cocaine through airport security checkpoints. 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. Through the use of confidential sources and undercover agents, law enforcement discovered that defendants made these arrangements for a fee on five occasions between May 2013 and April 2014.

The indictment further alleges that, once the passenger carrying drugs or simulated drugs arrived at the security checkpoint lane, s/he was directed or escorted to a particular security line. On that line, one of the defendants was either operating or overseeing the operation of the x-ray machine. The defendant operating or overseeing the x-ray machine either knew the carry-on baggage contained narcotics, viewed images that suggested the need for secondary inspection, or both. Nevertheless, 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.

Three San Francisco International Airport Security Screeners Charged With Fraud And Smuggling Drugs

[USAO-NDCA/Department of Justice]

(via Reddit)

(Image: San Francisco International Terminal at night, Håkan Dahlström, CC-BY)