Four baggage handlers at the San Diego International Airport are accused of smuggling cocaine and methamphetamine into airplanes by exploiting their ability to get through security screenings unchecked.
According to a federal grand jury indictment, Felix Samuel Garcia, Paulo Mendez Perez and Saul Bojorquez worked for Delta Global Services (DGS), which provides ground services for many airlines.
The indictment alleges that they flashed their badges and walked through checkpoints with drugs in their backpacks.
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Another DGS employee, Brian Alberto Gonzalez, is accused of working as a courier.
The allegedly drug-toting baggage handlers would meet with the couriers in Terminal 2 bathrooms. The indictment said they would wait for adjoining stalls to become available, then hand off the cocaine or meth under the stalls’ divider.
The couriers would board flights to places like New York City, Nashville, Detroit, Hawaii and Baltimore, where they would pass the drugs off to a local trafficking organization.
U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said the street price of meth in San Diego is about $5,000 a pound, but it jumps up to $25,000 a pound in Hawaii.
Another seven accused couriers, drug suppliers and middlemen are charged in the indictment. They are from San Diego, Chula Vista, Fresno and San Bernardino and range in age from 21 to 48.
All the defendants were arrested in a federal agent sweep last week, and all but one are still in custody.
A Drug Enforcement Agency complaint says agents seized 17 pounds of cocaine, 18 pounds of meth and $103,846 in cash over the year-long investigation.