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Feds: Texas airline workers used flights to distribute "meth"

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport

CBS DFW

DALLAS -- Federal authorities say 10 airline workers at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport used commercial flights to distribute a substance they thought was methamphetamine that was flown to Arizona, New Jersey and elsewhere. Prosecutors announced Tuesday that the 10 were indicted on a count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance. 

Seven of the defendants worked for Envoy Air, a regional carrier owned by American Airlines, reports the Dallas Morning News.Two others worked for Spirit Airlines, authorities said. A source familiar with the case tells CBS News that most of the suspects worked as baggage handlers.

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The tenth suspect had reportedly not been arrested as of Tuesday morning.    

Authorities say beginning in 2016, after two defendants met with an undercover officer, the group obtained a substance they thought was meth and used their positions to bypass airport security at DFW and place the counterfeit drugs on flights. They allegedly accepted payments in return. 

The defendants would also allegedly act as "look outs" for each other , the indictment alleges. They allegedly had 145 lbs. of the substance transported to various domestic destinations. The bulk of the "meth" was sent to Newark, New Jersey, while other shipments were flown to Phoenix and Charlotte, North Carolina. 

"At American and Envoy Air, we have an unwavering commitment to the safety and security of our customers and team members," American Airlines said in a statement released to CBS News. "We take this matter very seriously and are cooperating with law enforcement during their investigation."    

At least one defendant had said he would transport firearms on commercial flights but it's not clear if that actually was done. There was also discussion about transporting explosives, but the defendant allegedly said the fee for smuggling it would be higher than the narcotics, the indictment said.

No actual drugs, explosives or guns were actually transported on the flights, said U.S. attorney Erin Nealy Cox.

"This is about greed and people who abuse their positions of trust," Nealy Cox said.