April 26, 2012 in Nation/World

TSA screeners face charges of bribery

Victoria Kim Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES – Two current and two former Transportation Security Administration screeners have been arrested and face charges of taking bribes and looking the other way while suitcases filled with cocaine, methamphetamine or marijuana passed through X-ray machines at Los Angeles International Airport, federal authorities announced Wednesday.

The TSA screeners, who were arrested Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, allegedly received up to $2,400 in cash bribes in exchange for allowing large drug shipments to pass through checkpoints in what the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles called a “significant breakdown” of security.

In addition to the screeners, prosecutors also indicted two alleged drug couriers and a third who allegedly tried to smuggle 11 pounds of cocaine but was nabbed when he went through the wrong security checkpoint.

The 40-page indictment outlines five alleged smuggling incidents over a six-month period last year. In one incident, screeners schemed to allow for about 8 pounds of methamphetamine to pass through security, then went to an airport restroom where $600 was handed off, the second half of the payment for that delivery, according to prosecutors.

The indicted screeners are Naral Richardson, 30, and Joy White, 27, who were both fired by TSA last year; and John Whitfield, 23, and Capeline McKinney, 25, who are both currently employed as screeners. All four face up to life in prison if convicted.

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