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Four TSA screeners charged with taking bribes, passing drugs through LAX checkpoints



TSA baggage X-ray at LAX.
TSA baggage X-ray at LAX.
Brian Watt/KPCC

Souvenir snow globes will cause tsuris for the TSA, but mass quantities of cocaine have been blowing through LAX checkpoints without as much as a sneeze, it was revealed on Wednesday.

Two current and two former TSA screeners at Los Angeles International Airport have been arrested and indicted on drug conspiracy charges following a trafficking probe. 

In all, seven people face drug-related charges in a 22-count grand jury indictment that was unsealed today in a Los Angeles federal court.

The TSA agents allegedly allowed and arranged for large amounts of cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and other drugs to pass easily through security screenings last year. Other charges include paying and receiving bribes by a government official.

According to the indictment there were five coordinated incidents where TSA screeners conspired to let suitcases of drugs slip through X-ray machines undetected via drug couriers or an undercover operative working with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

In some cases, screeners were paid in exchange for their cooperation via cash handoffs in airport bathrooms.

One related drug courier is already in state custody, another is expected to surrender tomorrow, and a third alleged courier is being pursued, say officials.

Randy Parsons, director of TSA security at LAX, is disappointed about the arrests, but says they are committed to holding employees to the highest standards.

According to the official news release from the Department of Justice, the indictment includes the following names, details, and charges:

Naral Richardson, 30, of Los Angeles

 

John Whitfield, 23, of Los Angeles

 

Joy White, 27, of Compton

 

Capeline McKinney, 25, of Los Angeles

 

Duane Eleby, 28, of Downey

 

Terry Cunningham, 28, of Los Angeles

 

Stephen Bayliss, 28, of Los Angeles

 

Lisa Brenner can be reached via Twitter @lisa_brenner