10 airline employees busted in Dallas-Fort Worth Airport drug trafficking sting

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport                        CBS DFW

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport CBS DFW

The defendants were arrested Monday and will make an appearance in federal court later this week, the Justice Department said.

Undercover FBI agents busted the attempted operation by negotiating deals for the transportation of certain amounts of what the suspects thought was methamphetamine, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox said Tuesday. "They did this, as well as work with others they knew had positions of trust at the airport in order to transport kilograms of methamphetamine".

Authorities say beginning in 2016 the group used their positions to bypass security and place the meth on flights. The Dallas Police Department, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport Police Department assisted the FBI with the investigation. American Airlines is scheduled to release earnings figures on April 26.

At least one defendant had said he would transport firearms on commercial flights.

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. The fake drugs then made their way to cities including Newark, Phoenix, and Charlotte, North Carolina.

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No guns or explosives were shipped during the investigation, Cox said.

The Indictment, returned last week and unsealed Tuesday, charges Nelson Pabon, 47, Jean Loui Vargas-Malave, 28, Juan Camacho Melendez, aka "Kendo Kaponi" and "Anthony", 22, Ruben Benitez-Matienzo, 45, Jose Luis Gaston-Rolon, 24, Joshua Israel Pagan Zapata, 21, Domingo Villafane Martinez III, 30, Luis Javier Collazo Rosado, aka "Luisito", 21, Michael LNU, and Cristian David Cruz-Rodriguez, 23, with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a Schedule II controlled substance.

"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. "Working together with federal and local law enforcement partners, we continue to prioritize efforts to help mitigate the insider threat to aviation security".

"DFW and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have a strong partnership that is focused on keeping our customers and employees safe and secure, and these arrests demonstrates how well we work together", said DFW Airport Police Chief Charles Cinquemani.

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