TSA screeners charged in LA drug trafficking probe
In a photo provided by the US Attorney's Office, one of the TSA screeners is arrested at LAX regarding a drug trafficking scheme, April 25, 2012. / US Attorney's Office
(AP) LOS ANGELES - Two former and two current Transportation Security Administration employees were accused of allowing large amounts of cocaine and other drugs to pass through X-ray machines at security checkpoints in exchange for cash, authorities said Wednesday.
The indictment involving drug conspiracy and bribery charges outlined five incidents where the employees took payments of up to $2,400 to provide drug couriers unfettered access at Los Angeles International Airport over a six-month period last year.
"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," said U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr.
Among those arrested and charged are Naral Richardson, 30, of Los Angeles, who was fired by TSA in 2010 and accused of orchestrating the scheme; John Whitfield, 23, of Los Angeles, a current TSA screener; Joy White, 27, of Compton, who was terminated last year; and Capeline McKinney, 25, of Los Angeles, also a current screener.
It wasn't immediately known if any of the four had retained attorneys.
Randy Parsons, TSA's security director at LAX, said the agency is disappointed about the arrests but that it remained committed to holding its employees to the highest standards.
If convicted, all four employees face a minimum of 10 years in federal prison.
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