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Indictments In Operation Safe Travel

Sixty-nine airport workers have been indicted on federal charges of using false information to get jobs at Salt Lake International Airport, prosecutors said Tuesday.

U.S. Attorney Paul Warner said there was no indication of terrorist connections. He said most of the 69 are accused of lying to get security badges allowing them into secure areas.

Salt Lake City is the site of the Winter Olympics in February. Some $300 million has been earmarked for security, including thousands of guards, radar planes and biological and chemical detectors.

Sixty-one of those indicted are charged with using fake immigration and Social Security documents to get security badges. Investigators said those workers are in the country illegally, and are mostly from Central and South America.

Six others are charged with lying about past criminal history to get the security clearance. The remaining two did not have security badges but relied on false information to get airport jobs.

Investigators identified about 200 more employees who were working with phony credentials. They were not prosecuted because they worked in less secure areas. Those workers have been fired.

All the indicted employees worked for airport subcontractors, such as food services, or had jobs fueling aircraft or handling cargo.

Investigators around the country have been rounding up illegal immigrants who are suspected of using fake documents to get airport security credentials. "Operation Safe Travel," a coordinated effort by Immigration and Naturalization Service, Social Security
Administration and other agencies, began after the Sept. 11 attacks.

While the suspects have not been tied to terrorism, they are being purged from airport payrolls amid heightened worries about airport security. There have also been arrests in at the Denver and Miami airports.

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