A former employee of DFW International Airport planned to use his connections and position, as well as those of other family members employed at the airport, to smuggle fake cocaine and explosives through security and onto flights headed to points across the country. His wife, who worked the ticket counter at American Airlines, was also part of the planned operation, as were his cousin, nephew, and family members in other countries, including New Zealand and Tonga.
The former DFW employee and his team were successful in getting what they thought was cocaine onto flights out of Dallas destined for Newark, New Jersey; Chicago, Illinois; San Francisco, California; Phoenix, Arizona; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Wichita, Kansas. What they did not know, however, was that all of their “contacts” were actually undercover federal agents and that the “drugs” were fake.
For leading the group of would-be drug smugglers, the former DFW employee received 15 years and eight months in federal prison. He and 45 other people were arrested in July of last year. He received such a long sentence because prosecutors introduced evidence provided by an FBI agent during the sentencing hearing that explosive devices were an intended part of the plot as well.
FBI Agent Ray Harrison said during his testimony that, “He bragged that he could fly a bomb wherever he chose to.”
In addition to the transport of fake cocaine, the former DFW employee also negotiated a job with undercover federal agents in which he agreed to fly plastic explosives through DFW Airport in exchange for a fee of $4,000.
The undercover operation, in addition to exposing the smuggling ring, also revealed a number of potentially exploitable holes in airport security – namely, its employees. The former DFW employee was able to book seats on flights when no federal agents were on board with the help of a ticketing agent. He and his wife knew where security cameras were, and they were therefore able to avoid them. Baggage handlers who worked for him would alert him when the Transportation Security Administration would be randomly checking the bags of employees. Additionally, he reportedly had four cousins who worked for Federal Express who were willing to assist with transporting the drugs.
Another Will Rise Up
Though this case put an extensive drug smuggling ring out of business, the problem is that other families, groups, and organizations will ultimately rise up to replace them – and many are still actively in business. As long as there is a market for illegal drugs, there will be people who will prioritize their own financial gain over the safety and health of everyone around them.
But the answer is not necessarily to stop the efforts of local, state, and federal governments as they work together to bring down drug cartels and drug smuggling rings. It is to continue this effort but also to work to decrease demand for these substances by increasing preventative efforts and education, and working to connect people who are struggling with drug dependency with treatment that will help them heal.
Does Your Loved One Need Treatment?
Unfortunately, it is common among people who are living with a substance use disorder to not only deny that they need treatment but also that they have a life-threatening problem that requires intervention. It is not uncommon to hear a loved one who objectively is struggling due to an inability to manage drug or alcohol use claim that they can “quit at any time,” “know what they are doing,” and are not in any danger.
The fact is, however, that one of the hallmarks of addiction is an inability to quit or moderate use of addictive substances despite the continuation of negative consequences due to substance use. The nature of addiction is such that the individual is compelled to continue use of their substance of choice to the detriment of all else – their health, their safety, their freedom, and their relationships. Addiction is an insidious medical disease with mental health components, and as such, intensive professional addiction treatment is recommended.
If someone you love is struggling with addiction, don’t wait to reach out for help.