18 American Airlines Workers Hunted in PR Drug Raid
Sophisticated airport operation moved tons ofdrugs to US via commercial airlines: DEA
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Jun 7, 2012 2:00 AM CDT
Drug Enforcement Administration officers escort a handcuffed suspect after his arrest on drug smuggling charges in San Juan yesterday.   (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
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(Newser) – US drug agents nabbed dozens of baggage handlers, American Airlines workers and others in a raid on Puerto Rico's main airport. "We have dismantled the two most significant drug operations at the airport," said the acting special agent in charge of the DEA's Caribbean division. At least 33 people were busted at San Juan's Luis Munoz Marin airport, along with two workers at Miami's international airport, and another at Dallas-Fort Worth, reports AP. The sophisticated drug-running operation has functioned for years with heroin hand-offs in bathrooms, and suitcases packed with cocaine that were transported via commercial airlines, reports the BBC.

Some 14 tons of cocaine and several pounds of heroin were moved from Puerto Rico to cities including Miami, New York, Boston and Newark. Among all the 45 suspects busted or still sought, 18 worked for American Airlines and 12 were employees of a baggage handling service at the San Juan airport. "They put the security of all passengers at risk," said US Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez. One busted suspect was the driver of Puerto Rico Sen. Lornna Soto, who represents the district where the airport is located, and is a member of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party. Agents are still seeking a government worker with Puerto Rico's Port Authority. A spokesman for American said the airline supports prosecuting individuals responsible "to the fullest extent of the law," adding: "We have a zero-tolerance policy for any employee when it comes to this type of activity."

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