Law enforcement

Airline Workers at D/FW Indicted in FBI Sting to Smuggle Drugs, Guns, Explosives on Commercial Airplanes

No actual drugs, guns or explosives were smuggled in yearslong sting

Ten airline workers at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport have been indicted in an FBI undercover operation for allegedly plotting to smuggle methamphetamine, explosives and guns onto planes, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Seven of those indicted worked for Envoy Airlines, a subsidiary of American Airlines, and two worked for Spirit Airlines, prosecutors said.

A tenth suspect has not been arrested yet.

A federal grand jury has returned an Indictment charging ten individuals for their role in conspiring to traffic contraband through D/FW Airport, announced Erin Nealy Cox, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, at a press conference Tuesday.

“We have zero tolerance for employees who seek to undermine and evade the security protocols at airports,” said U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox.

The undercover operation began in August 2016 and continued until February, said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Jackson.

As part of the operation, those involved thought they were smuggling 66 kilograms of methamphetamine to airports including Newark, Phoenix and Charlotte, prosecutors said.

No actual drugs were involved.

The workers also agreed to smuggle explosives and weapons, but investigators decided to end the operation and make arrests before it reached that point.

Those indicted were Nelson Pabon, 47; Jean Loui Vargas-Malave, 28; Juan Camacho Melendez, 22; Ruben Benitez-Matienzo, 45; Jose Luis Gaston-Rolon, 24; Joshua Israel Pagan Zapata, 21; Domingo Villafane Martinez, 30; Luis Javier Collazo Rosado, 21; and Cristian David Cruz-Rodriguez, 23.

Mugshots of Airline Workers Indicted in D/FW Airport FBI Sting

In a statement to NBC 5 Tuesday afternoon, American Airlines said all airport employees undergo a criminal background check as part of the onboarding process. The employees named in the indictment, the airline said, are on administrative suspension pending the outcome of the investigation; their travel privileges have also been suspended.

“At American and Envoy Air, we have an unwavering commitment to the safety and security of our customers and team members. We take this matter very seriously and are cooperating with law enforcement during their investigation.”

The airline said they are cooperating fully with federal investigators and referred all questions about the investigation to the FBI and U.S. Attorney's office.

Unsealed Indictment

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