SAN DIEGO (CN) - Four baggage handlers at San Diego International Airport were among the 11 people charged with conspiring to smuggle cocaine and methamphetamine onto aircraft.
It's the first federal prosecution employees at San Diego's largest airport, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement announcing the indictment
"The indictment alleges that Felix Samuel Garcia, Paulo Mendez Perez and Saul Bojorquez, all current or former employees of Delta Global Services, which provides ground services for several airlines, flashed badges numerous times and walked through checkpoints with drugs in their backpacks. Brian Alberto Gonzalez, also a DGS employee, allegedly worked as a courier," prosecutors said in the statement.
The baggage handlers and drug mules met in airport bathrooms and passed the drugs under adjoining stalls, according to the U.S. attorney.
"Also charged were seven alleged couriers, drug suppliers and middlemen," prosecutors said in the statement. "After the bathroom rendezvous, the couriers would board flights and proceed to destinations like New York City, Nashville, Detroit, Baltimore and Hawaii, where they were met by other members of the drug trafficking organization. While the street price of methamphetamine in San Diego is about $5,000 a pound, the value skyrockets to $25,000 a pound in Hawaii.
"The alleged traffickers charged in the indictment include Sergio Mejia-Gamboa, Angel Ortega, David Camacho, Jesus Morales, Candelario Perez, Israel Acosta and Henry Garcia-Arambula. All were arrested last week during sweeps by federal agents. All defendants are in custody but Ortega."
Agents seized 17 lbs. of cocaine, 18 lbs. of meth and $103,846 in cash during the yearlong investigation, the U.S. attorney said.
All 11 defendants, whose ages range from 21 to 48, live in California.