Flight Attendants Charged in U.S.-Dominican Drug Smuggling Scheme

(USNewsMag.com) – Four flight attendants were busted for allegedly participating in a drug money smuggling scheme and arrested on Tuesday, May 7th.

On Wednesday, May 8th, four flight attendants were accused of taking part in a scheme that went on for several years which involved smuggling cash profits from drug sales to the Dominican Republic from the U.S.

The defendants named in the two unsealed complaints from Southern District of New York prosecutors are Jarol Fabio, Charlie Hernandez, Sarah Valerio Pujols, and Emmanuel Torres. According to prosecutors, the four defendants worked for international airlines as flight attendants at New York Kennedy Airport (JFK) and knowingly transported drug money from the U.S. into the Dominican Republic.

The scheme allegedly went on for about three years. The four suspects used their “Known Crewmember” status to sneak the money onboard flights. The status allowed employees to bypass standard security checkpoints while carrying personal property, a privilege prosecutors say crew members abused to smuggle loads of cash from drug sales.

The scheme was busted when two of the defendants met with a confidential informant who was actually an undercover agent for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The informant gave the flight attendants $60,000 to transport to the Dominican Republican, according to the indictment, while the other two received over $120,000 in drug money from another confidential information, which was to be split.

Ivan J. Arvelo, the DHS Investigations Special Agent in Charge, said that “critical vulnerabilities” within the industry of airline security were “exposed” by their investigation, which uncovered the methods used by the “narcotics traffickers.”

US Attorney Damian Williams said the suspects “smuggled millions of dollars of drug money” by “abusing their privileges as airline employees.” Williams added that the charges should remind those who are breaking the law by assisting drug dealers move money around “that crime doesn’t pay.”

The four flight attendants are accused of transporting up to $8 million in total to the Dominican Republic over three years and now face a variety of charges, including conspiracy.

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