An indictment unsealed Wednesday accuses two current and two ex-security screeners at Los Angeles International Airport with taking cash payments to allow large shipments of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine to pass through X-ray machines at airport security checkpoints.
The federal indictment also includes charges against three alleged drug couriers, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
In addition to the current and former Transportation Security Administration officials, one alleged drug courier is currently in state custody, and another suspected drug courier is expected to surrender Thursday.
Authorities are searching for another alleged drug courier named in the 22-count grand jury indictment, prosecutors said.
The indictment outlines five specific incidents in which current and former TSA employees allegedly took payments of as much as $2,400 to allow suitcases filled with drugs to pass through X-ray machines at LAX while federal screeners looked the other way.
"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."
The indictment names:
- Naral Richardson, 30, of Los Angeles, who was arrested this morning. Richardson, who was fired by the TSA in 2010, is accused of orchestrating the five incidents in which TSA screeners allegedly agreed to waive narcotics through security checkpoints.
All of the defendants who were arrested Tuesday and today were expected to be arraigned on the indictment later today Los Angeles federal court.
If convicted of all charges in the indictment, the current and former TSA officials each face potential multiple-year prison sentences up to life behind bars, prosecutors said.