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TSA drug-smuggling plot at LAX -- and another on the East Coast

April 26, 2012|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • Travelers line up for TSA screening at LAX last year.
Travelers line up for TSA screening at LAX last year. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

The Transportation Security Administration labeled the drug-smuggling case at Los Angeles International Airport that came to light Wednesday as a "significant" breach in security. If so, there's a bigger problem than just the LAX case.

Earlier this month, a former TSA officer admitted his role in a drug-smuggling scandal from 2010 to 2011 on the East Coast. The case is taking place in New Haven, Conn., and others involved have already pleaded guilty. Here's what the Hartford Courant reported on April 17:

"Three Transportation Security Administration officers, two police officers and more than a dozen drug dealers in Florida, New York and Connecticut are charged in the smuggling conspiracy that delivered illegal oxycodone pills from Florida to the Waterbury [Conn.] area.

"Authorities said that the TSA officers — two in Florida and one in New York — were paid to help drug couriers move pills and the stacks of cash they generated through airport screening systems."

In Los Angeles, the case raises similar security concerns. It alleges TSA screeners allowed luggage they knew was filled with cocaine, methamphetamine or marijuana pass through checkpoints at the airport from January to July 2011 in exchange for cash from drug couriers. Four current and former TSA agents have been charged.

Victoria Kim writes in this L.A. Times story:

"The case represents a "significant breakdown of the screening system," U.S. Atty. Andre Birotte Jr. said in a statement, adding the accused screeners "placed greed above the nation's security needs."

What do you think should be done to shore up security breaches at the TSA?

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