Southern California breaking news and trends

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

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Brian Watt/KPCC

TSA baggage X-ray at LAX.

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.


Guys and dolls and drugs: Toy company accused of laundering millions in dirty money

These little cuties are available from Woody Toys in the City of Industry -- or were, before the company was indicted on charges of funneling millions in drug money.

Employees of a City of Industry toy company were arrested today in a money laundering scheme that allegedly funneled millions of dollars in Colombian and Mexican drug money, ICE officials announced.

Five people from Woody Toys -- two owners and three company employees -- were arrested and charged with evading federal reporting requirements for financial transactions, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. Two Mexican toy dealers also were arrested earlier this month on similar charges, the agency said. Woody Toys co-owner Jia Hui Zhou and toy dealer Luis Ernesto Flores Rivera are additionally charged with conspiring to launder money.

It is believed that at least $6 million in drug money was channeled through Woody Toys between 2005 and 2011.

Based on its website, Woody Toys seems to specialize in adorably fluffy (but cheaply made) dolls. Products include “Farm Frenz,” “Jungle Pals” and “Sea Cuddles.”


Drug-filled Cessna surrounded by NORAD fighter jets near LAX after breaking Obama no-fly zone

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Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

A small plane picked the wrong week to smuggle drugs into LA.

As President Barack Obama was returning to Los Angeles International Airport aboard Marine One, a plane carrying drugs broke the temporary no-fly zone prompting a swift military reaction, NBC News is reporting.

The president was reportedly never in danger. However, the same may not be true of the single-engine Cessna 182 that found itself surrounded by NORAD fighter jets.

F-16s out of March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County intercepted the small plane and followed it "without incident," according to a NORAD statement, to the Long Beach Airport, where marijuana was discovered inside the aircraft by authorities.


Sativex lights up marijuana debate with FDA


Photo by Alexodus via Flickr Creative Commons

Sativex, a pot-based prescription drug spray derived not from a synthetic equivalent but from the cannabis plant itself, is jonesing for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval more than 25 years after the first synthetic THC capsules were swallowed.

Should the medicinal mouth spray get the green light, the world's first pharmaceutical developed from raw marijuana, and similar medicines, could soon find their way to pharmacy shelves, say drug companies, biotech firms and university scientists.

GW Pharma in advanced clinical trials for the drug. The British company wants to push it to the U.S. market as a treatment for cancer pain, and is hoping for FDA approval by the end of 2013.

Containing marijuana's two best known components — delta 9-THC and cannabidiol — Sativex is already approved in Canada, New Zealand and eight European countries in relieving muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis.