In two federal indictments unsealed on Wednesday, May 31, 2012, 20 people were charged with aiding and abetting to distribute over 9,000 kilograms of cocaine aboard American Airlines flights bound for Miami, Orlando and Newark, according to the Justice Department. Among the arrested were American Airline employees who were part of a group put together to transport and load luggage filled with the cocaine to the cargo area and then ensure the delivery to those three destinations within the continental United States.
The other indictment charged 25 people with 16 counts each of racketeering and drug trafficking, according to the department.
The indictments followed raids conducted at the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in Puerto Rico.
American Airlines issued the following statement: “In cases such as this, American Airlines always assist local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Our support also extends to helping prosecute the individuals responsible to the fullest extent of the law. We have a zero-tolerance policy for any employee when it comes to this type of activity. The actions of a few employees should not reflect negatively on the tens of thousands of ethical American Airlines employees who work hard to serve our customers each and every day.”
“A zero-tolerance policy”? On felony aiding and abetting drug activity? I should hope so! Is it just me or is does that statement apply to a far less egregious act, like maybe a luggage handler riffling through a passenger’s bag? This is 9,000 kilograms of cocaine! But I’m thrilled to hear you always assist law enforcement. Wait. Shouldn’t that go without saying? Don’t worry American Airlines, those few criminals don’t reflect negatively on you. Your spokesperson does.
Setting aside American Airlines’ lackadaisical response, the bigger issue is the fact that this is the second raid in three years at that airport. Due to the combination of Puerto Rico being a commonwealth of the United States and as such travelers do not have to go through customs and Puerto Rico being located between South America and the continental United States.
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