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"3 Hartsfield workers accused in drug conspiracy"
Friday, May 4, 2012
3 airport workers accused in drug conspiracy
By GREG BLUESTEIN
The Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) - A plot by three workers at Atlanta's airport to smuggle a bag
filled with heroin and methamphetamine into the U.S. was foiled when the
baggage ended up on an unclaimed luggage carousel, prosecutors said
The workers were charged conspiring to smuggle more than $500,000 worth of
the drugs into the country on a Delta Air Lines flight in January from
Mexico City after another employee discovered the drug-laden bag on the
carousel. Prosecutors said the three sent frantic coded text messages to
each other trying to find the bag before realizing it was too late.
Carlos Springer, 41, and Kelvin Rondon, 27, were both arrested this week on
the charges. A third man, Luis Marroquin, remains a fugitive. It's unclear
if the men have an attorney, and calls to their phones went unanswered.
"We will continue to work with airline security teams and our law
enforcement partners to prosecute those who attempt to use their airport
credentials and access as a means to engage in illegal drug trafficking,"
said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.
Investigators zeroed in on the airline workers in January after a worker
found an unclaimed piece of luggage stuffed with packages of methamphetamine
and heroin from a flight that arrived in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta
International Airport from Mexico City. Federal agents soon suspected the
bag was smuggled in by corrupt employees, partly based on the large
hand-written orange sticker on the outside of the bag, according to court
They tracked down Springer, who was a supervisor for Delta baggage workers
on that shift, and found several coded text messages he sent to Marroquin
shortly before the flight's arrival. One of the messages expressed shock
that they couldn't find an "ALA bag" shortly after the Delta flight arrived.
"ALA" is lingo for a baggage handler.
Rondon, too, was charged after he told investigators he was recruited by
Marroquin to act as a lookout. He said he was to be paid at least $500 to
make sure the bag was on the flight, but that when he arrived on the tarmac
to help unload the luggage he couldn't find the luggage. Rondon told
authorities he texted Marroquin with the bad news and then fled the airport.
The three men face sentences of up to life in prison and a fine that could
reach $10 million.
TSA drug-smuggling case stems from LAX mix-up (2012)
A deeper look at attempted drug-smuggling at Dulles International Airport
DHS IG: Mexican cartels use money, sex to bribe U.S. border agents (2011)
Feds bust Salt Lake City Airport drug smuggling operation (2011)
International drug smuggling ring linked to Houston airport (2011)
Detroit Metro Airport employees charged in drug smuggling schemes (2011)
Orlando airport's efforts fail to prevent gun, drug smuggling (2008)
Three charged with Hartsfield drug smuggling (2008)
Airline workers among 18 people charged with drug trafficking at JFK (2007)
Huge cocaine stash found on O'Hare plane (Apr 2007)
Feds seize $400,000 of cocaine at O'Hare (Aug 2007)
Airport Security and the DC Shuffle
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