The case of Marsha Gay Reynolds, the JetBlue flight attendant who ran off on LAX airport security and left behind her bags with 70 pounds of cocaine inside, made LAX officials question the airport’s screening policy. Airport personnel are routinely exempt from security checks, making it easier for them to smuggle contraband. Today, another story is coming out of LAX concerning two airport baggage handlers accused of abusing their privileges to move “The White.”
Adrian Ponce, 27, and Alberto Preciado Gutierrez, 26, stand accused of using their airport credentials to facilitate a cocaine trafficking scheme. Gutierrez was a supervisor. They would, allegedly, smuggle a small amount of of coke past security, then pass off testers to couriers who would fly to the East Coast to give them to potential custies. If the samplers were pleased with the product, either Ponce or Gutierrez would allegedly drive orders of up to 220 pounds of coke out East.
They were arrested after a joint investigation by the DEA and FBI and charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine through the airport. According to FOX News:
In December, authorities seized about 2 pounds of cocaine from Gutierrez in an airport restroom, where he was trying to pass the drugs to a courier who had a plane ticket to New York. Ponce, who was waiting for Gutierrez in a car nearby, was taken into custody.
Coincidentally, they were formally charged on the same day that Gay made her first court appearance.
The authorities have some decisions to make, regarding the screening of airport employees. FOX reports:
The TSA has said that fully screening all employees would cost too much. Instead, the agency has urged airports to increase random screenings of workers and to keep background checks up to date.
To prevent insider threats, authorities are limiting employee access to secure areas of LAX, Airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon said Monday. The agency says officers are randomly inspecting employees coming in and out of restricted areas.