Last updated: 01:11 PM ET, Tue May 19 2015

Southwest Workers Arrested For Smuggling Marijuana

Impacting Travel | Rich Thomaselli | May 19, 2015

Southwest Workers Arrested For Smuggling Marijuana

Fourteen people, including three baggage handlers for Southwest Airlines, have been arrested and charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana.

According to the Contra Costa Times, Southwest baggage handlers at Oakland International Airport Kenneth Wayne Fleming, 32, Keith Ramon Mayfield, 34, and Michael Herb Videau, 28, used their airport security badges to circumvent security, federal prosecutors allege.

The trio would take duffel bags filled with marijuana and bypass security, entering a Southwest terminal at the Oakland airport well past the checkpoint. They would then hand off the bags to co-conspirators who had already legitimately bought tickets from Oakland to another city and had already cleared security. The bags were then transported on the flights for distribution across the country.

One of the three baggage handlers was also accused of putting the bags right on the plane and shipping drugs as cargo.

In a statement, Southwest said “We do not tolerate any behavior or activity that could jeopardize the safety and security of our operation. We will continue to work with law enforcement, airport authorities, and our security partners to perform due diligence in upholding high security standards."

Prosecutors allege the conspiracy has been going on since July of 2012. Of the 14 arrested, three were fugitives and two have since been serving state prison terms.

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