Delta Air Lines and TSA workers involved in drug ring investigation shows
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Five people have been arrested in a major drug trafficking ring between Hawaii and California. It's an inside job as investigators say some of the suspects work for Delta Airlines and the Transportation Security Administration.
The drugs were flown from California to Hawaii and the money was flown back. It required a sophisticated plan with people on the inside who had security clearance at various airports.
Here is how it would go according to the criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations Honolulu Office. A member of the drug team would board a flight and check a suitcase. Then either a Delta Airlines or Transportation Security Administration worker would find the bag after it had been screened and put the drugs inside. The passenger would then pick it up at baggage like normal. Once in Hawaii the drugs would be taken to a hotel and wait to be picked up and distributed.
Then huge payments of hundreds of thousands of dollars would be flown back to the supplier in California the same way.
The TSA says it is still looking into the allegations but says no TSA workers from Hawaii were involved.
Court records do show Sifatutupu Fuamatu, a Delta Airlines ramp agent in Hawaii was actively involved. Her husband Falefia Fuamatu was also charged.
According to court documents the other defendants include Walter Dominguez who is said to be the main supplier in California and got the drugs from Mexico; Lloyd Talia who "facilitates the transportation of the drugs in Hawaii and collects and consolidates drug proceeds back to California"; and Larry Chung as the primary meth distributor in Hawaii.
Calls to their defense attorneys were not returned.
"Delta takes these situations very seriously and we will cooperate fully with authorities," said Morgan Durrant, Delta Air Lines Corporate Communications, in a written statement.
The State Department of Transportation says thousands of people have security badges to secured areas. In order to get those badges they are fingerprinted and their record and criminal history is checked. The state will review the case to determine if there are any security changes that could be made. No state employees were involved.
Investigators say hundreds of pounds of meth were smuggled from January 2011 to January 2012. The Fuamatu's were paid anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000 per trip transport. The passenger onboard only got airfare and $500. Not much considering they all face federal drug dealing charges.
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