LAX Security Officers Accused of Aiding Drug Trafficking [Updated]
Two current and two ex-Transportation Security Administration officials at LAX were arrested for allegedly allowing large shipments of drugs through airport security checkpoints.
The indictment accuses Naral Richardson, 30, John Whitfield, 23, Joy White, 27, and Capeline McKinney, 25, of separately accepting payments of as much as $2,400 to allow suitcases full of drugs such as cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine pass through X-ray machines.
The indictment also accused Terry Cunningham, 28, and Stephen Bayliss, 28, of transporting drugs through the airport.
Bayliss is currently in custody, and authorities are looking for Cunningham.
The third alleged courier, Duane Eleby, 28, surrended Thursday. Eleby attempted to sneak in five kilograms of cocaine past a security checkpoint through the wrong terminal and was caught by law enforcements.
“Airport screeners act as a vital checkpoint for homeland security, and air travelers should believe in the fundamental integrity of security systems at our nation’s airports,” said U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. “The allegations in this case describe a significant breakdown of the screening system through the conduct of individuals who placed greed above the nation’s security needs.”
Richardson, of Los Angeles, was arrested Wednesday. He was fired in 2010 by TSA who accused him of orchestrating the five incidents.
Whitfield was arrested Tuesday night. He is a TSA screener who is accused of personally allowing the passage of over 20 kilograms of cocaine through LAX security.
Whitfield is also accused of allegedly conspiring with Richardson to allow about four kilograms of meth to pass through the airport.
White, who was also arrested Wednesday morning, was fired last year by the TSA. White's former job at LAX consisted of screening checkpoints. She is accused of allegedly allowing 20 kilograms of cocaine as well as other various drug shipments to pass through airport security.
McKinney, was arrested Wednesday morning, is a TSA screener who allegedly allowed over 20 kilograms of cocaine to go through airport security.
Defendants arrested Tuesday and Wednesday are expected to be arraigned on the indictment later in the day. If convicted of all charges, the current and ex-TSA officials could face prison sentences from a couple years to life, prosecutors said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.