A dozen government agents working for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) were arrested on February 8th for smuggling more than $100 million or 20 tons of cocaine into the U.S. from Puerto Rico since 1998.
“During the course of the conspiracy, the defendants smuggled suitcases, each containing at least 8 to 15 kilograms of cocaine, through the TSA security system at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport,” the Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a press release Monday.
The 12 defendants, six of whom no longer work for the TSA, sent the packages filled with drugs through the carry-on area of the plane, bypassing security.
“These individuals were involved in a conspiracy to traffic massive quantities of illegal narcotics to the continental United States,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, in a statement. “These arrests demonstrate the success of the AirTAT initiative, which has successfully allocated a dedicated group of state and federal law enforcement officers, whose mission is to ensure that our airports are not used in the drug traffickers’ illicit businesses.”
The long history of TSA agents using their government power for personal profit or to infringe on personal liberty shows the need for agencies to do a better job holding their personnel accountable.