Last updated: 10:30 AM ET, Wed April 06 2016

LAX Employees Arrested For Attempting to Distribute Cocaine

Impacting Travel | Donald Wood | April 06, 2016

LAX Employees Arrested For Attempting to Distribute Cocaine

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Two baggage handlers at Los Angeles International Airport were arrested Monday for suspicion of trafficking several pounds of cocaine.

According to The Associated Press, Federal agents discovered around two pounds of cocaine when 26-year-old Alberto Preciado Gutierrez tried to make a drop off to a courier in a bathroom at LAX. Authorities also arrested 27-year-old Adrian Ponce as he waited in a car for Gutierrez.

The two men have been charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine through the airport, and were busted as part of a joint investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and local law enforcement.

Authorities claim Ponce admitted to working with a large scale drug-smuggling ring that used the fact that Preciado was a supervisor to bypass security on several occasions. Ponce also reportedly admitted to driving hundreds of pounds of cocaine across the country.

While Transportation Security Administration officials claim it would be too expensive to screen all employees, the agency is instructing airports to increase random screenings of employees and continuously update background checks.

Los Angeles International Airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon said in a statement to The AP that his officers, “take the possibility of an insider threat seriously and are creating an environment where every employee should expect they could be stopped and inspected at any time and any place while at the airport.”

The latest arrest comes after a JetBlue flight attendant was taken into custody after an attempt to smuggle 70 pounds of cocaine through a security checkpoint at LAX in March.


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