Atlanta GA. Feb 20 2008 A Delta employee and two Transportation Security Administration employees have been indicted on charges relating to a drug-smuggling operation at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reported Tuesday.
Leslie Adgar, 42, of Decatur, Ga., Andre Mays, 24, of Atlanta, and Jon Patton, 44, of Lawrenceville, Ga., were indicted by a federal grand jury after a sting operation set up by the federal government. The indictment charges Patton and Adgar with conspiring to distribute narcotics and attempting to distribute cocaine and heroin on three dates drugs were smuggled through Hartsfield-Jackson to New York. Mays is charged with the drug conspiracy and attempting to distribute cocaine on Dec. 19, 2007. The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine of up to $4 million.
According to the indictment and information presented in court, Patton and Mays are TSA employees working at Hartsfield-Jackson. Adgar is a Delta Airlines (NYSE: DAL) employee, also assigned to Hartsfield-Jackson. In December 2007, a confidential source working for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) brokered a deal with TSA employee Patton to send two kilograms of cocaine through Hartsfield-Jackson to New York. Patton set transportation fees of $5,000 for the first kilogram of cocaine and $3,000 for every kilogram after. Patton allegedly provided the source with a piece of luggage that was later used to carry the two kilograms of cocaine past security and onto the Delta flight.
On Dec. 19, 2007, at the direction of the DEA, the source met with Patton and a second TSA employee, Mays, at Hartsfield-Jackson and handed them a carry-on bag packed with two kilograms of fake cocaine and $4,000. Both Patton and Mays were in TSA uniform and on duty at Hartsfield-Jackson when they took the luggage. The $4,000 was one-half of the total $8,000 transportation fee; the plan was for the source to hand the second $4,000 to Adgar in New York when the sham drugs were delivered.
After taking the source’s bag, Patton and Mays went into a bathroom in Hartsfield-Jackson’s North Terminal. About two minutes later, Patton was seen inside the bathroom standing outside of a closed bathroom stall talking to Mays in the stall. Patton no longer had the bag. Mays was not visible, but the bag was on the floor inside the stall outside of which Patton was standing. Patton and Mays then exited the bathroom together. Patton once again was carrying the bag. Mays, who had entered the bathroom with his coat open, now had his coat closed. Mays was next spotted on the other side of the security check point.
Patton allegedly walked around the magnetometers, sending the bag through the x-ray machine. Patton and the bag were not challenged by TSA screeners. Patton retrieved the bag and eventually met with Adgar in the T concourse, giving her the bag. Adgar immediately boarded a Delta flight to New York’s LaGuardia Airport.
After arriving at LaGuardia, Adgar met with the source, who paid Adgar the remaining $4,000 of the smuggling fee. Adgar allegedly gave the source his bag with the two kilograms of fake cocaine. Adgar later boarded another Delta flight and came back to Atlanta.
In late January, the source and Patton negotiated a second smuggling transaction. On Jan. 23, the source traveled to Hartsfield-Jackson and gave Patton with the same carry-on bag that was used in the December deal. This time, however, the bag was packed with one kilogram of fake heroin and $4,500. Patton was in uniform and on duty when he took the luggage.
After taking the bag, Patton allegedly passed the heroin through the security checkpoint without notice. He then went near Gate T-8 and gave Adgar the bag. Adgar then boarded a Delta flight bound for LaGuardia Airport. After arriving in New York, Adgar deplaned and returned the bag with the sham heroin in it to the source. In exchange, the source handed Adgar the remaining $4,500. Adgar later boarded a Delta flight from New York to Orlando.
A third and final transaction happened Feb. 15. The source and Patton negotiated a three-kilogram cocaine deal, again from Atlanta to New York. The source arrived at Hartsfield-Jackson and gave Patton with the same carry-on bag that had been used in the previous two deals. The bag was packed with three kilograms of fake cocaine and cash. Patton was again in TSA uniform and on duty at Hartsfield-Jackson when he took the luggage. Patton allegedly passed the fake cocaine through security without incident. Inside the airport, Patton provided Adgar with the bag. Adgar was arrested by DEA agents while attempting to board a Delta flight to LaGuardia Airport. Patton and Mays were arrested shortly thereafter.
“These individuals allegedly abused their positions at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport to smuggle drugs past security and onto Delta flights,” said U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias. “This indictment should serve as a cautionary tale for others who would betray the trust that the public places in the frontline workers at our nation’s airports: such illegal conduct will be discovered and the offenders swiftly brought to justice.”
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