A man who admitted to placing illegal drugs on commercial flights at a Texas airport was sentenced on Dec. 12 to 200 months in a federal prison. He pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with the intent to distribute in March as part of a negotiated plea agreement. The man is the lead defendant in two cases involving compromises of airport security. A dozen individuals have been charged according to the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.
The man was apprehended following an undercover operation mounted by agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Dallas Field Office. The man, who worked as a baggage handler at the Dallas/ Fort Worth International Airport, is said to have told agents that he could place illegal drugs on commercial flights because he knew when drug-sniffing dogs would be deployed to check luggage. After being taken into custody, the man admitted to agents that he performed this service for several individuals.
He is alleged to have loaded methamphetamine onto flights bound for destinations including Charlotte and Phoenix on at least six occasions. U.S. attorneys say that the man even considered loading explosive devices onto planes as long as he was assured they would not detonate during flight. He is said to have told some of the other individuals involved in the scheme that shipping explosives would be more lucrative than transporting drugs.
The defendants in federal narcotics cases often plead guilty because the evidence against them is generally strong and penalties handed down following a trial conviction are usually far more severe than mandatory minimums. Experienced criminal defense lawyers may encourage U.S. attorneys to consider more lenient sentences by pointing out mitigating factors during plea discussions and offering them a speedy and successful outcome.