DFW AIRPORT (CBSDFW.COM) – A large drug bust at San Juan Puerto Rico’s international Airport has a North Texas connection.
At least 33 people, suspected of smuggling millions of dollars worth of drugs aboard commercial flights, were arrested.
Here in the United States three other suspects were arrested — including Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport worker Israel Morales-Laureano.
Additionally, some 45 arrest warrants were issued, 12 of them targeting current or former American Airlines employees.
Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Lila Rico said the workers had a system for moving millions of dollars in drugs.
“They were using their access to the airport, their clearance in the airport, to smuggle bags, luggage into the airport, with cocaine [inside],” she explained. “Since they had access, they would then load them [bags] into commercial airplanes and send them to different airports.”
Once the bags were transported to another airport a person would simply pick up the luggage in baggage claim.
According to Rico, Morales-Laureano had only just recently transferred to DFW Airport and committed his alleged transgressions at another location. He is scheduled to make his initial court appearance at the Earle Cabell Federal Building at 1 p.m.
Rico said there’s no indication drugs were transported to North Texas. “We haven’t had any cases linking to DFW.”
Shortly after the announcement American Airlines issued the following statement – “In cases such as this, American Airlines always assists local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Our support also extends to helping prosecute the individuals responsible to the fullest extent of the law. We have a zero-tolerance policy for any employee when it comes to this type of activity. The actions of a few employees should not reflect negatively on the tens of thousands of ethical American Airlines employees who work hard to serve our customers each and every day.”
Drug Enforcement Administration officials said all of the suspects were members of one of two Puerto Rico-based drug trafficking organizations. The two drug rings apparently worked together.
Half of those arrested were indicted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO Act). The other half was indicted for Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Cocaine.
Officials say the arrests are a continuation of a September 2009 operation that targeted nine AA workers accused of participating in the same drug ring.
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