Authorities say the charges stem from an undercover FBI investigation in which the individuals acquired fake methamphetamine and used their positions with airlines at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to bypass security measures and get the counterfeit drugs onto airplanes in exchange for payment.
Each faces a charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a schedule II controlled substance, but some of the 10 are accused of conspiring to move other contraband, such as weapons and explosives, on aircraft departing the airport, according to a news release from the US attorney's office in Dallas.
Ten airline workers at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport were persuaded to smuggle a substance they believed was methamphetamine across the US on commercial flights as part of an Federal Bureau of Investigation sting, prosecutors have alleged.
The investigation began in August 2016, when the suspects were provided with a substance that they believed to be methamphetamine, the release said.
"This [case] is about greed and people who abuse their positions of trust", Cox said. This case shows the lengths that these individuals would go to.
The airlines involved say they are cooperating with federal investigators. The defendants were arrested Monday and will make an appearance in federal court later this week, the Justice Department said.
No actual drugs, firearms or explosives were smuggled onto flights as part of the investigation, authorities confirmed.
Each of the defendants faces one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a scheduled II controlled substance.
"At American and Envoy Air, we have an unwavering commitment to the safety and security of our customers and team members".
A Spirit spokesman quoted by Dallas News said the airline "has been advised of this matter and will cooperate fully with law enforcement".
"The defendants negotiated with the undercover officers and charged a specific amount per kilogram", said Nealy Cox, which turned out to be anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000 just to transport the fake drugs. They allegedly had 145 lbs. of the drug transported to various domestic destinations.
All four defendants pleaded guilty to federal drug charges and received sentences of between six and 20 years in prison.
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