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.


Lynwood woman gets two years probation for LAX bomb threat


LAX at night.

Johnna Woolfolk only wanted her husband to stay home last Thanksgiving, instead of flying off to Atlanta to see his mistress. So she called AirTran Airways at LAX and told them her husband was carrying a bomb onto the plane.

The ploy held him up at the gates -- but it also landed Woolfolk in hot water for illegally providing false and misleading information. Today, however, a judge showed leniency on the 51-year-old Lynwood resident and sentenced her to two years probation.

“While this is a serious offense, I do believe this was aberrant behavior,” Judge Jacqueline H. Nguyen said, according to City News Service as reported in LAist.

Woolfolk stated in court today that she was under a “horrific amount of stress” when she made the phone call, and Judge Nguyen seemed to agree.

She was also sentenced to 200 hours of community services, mental health treatment and had to pay AirTran a few hundred bucks in restitution.


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.


Westfield at LAX - $331 million contract approved for restaurants and shopping

Photo by Jeff Kramer via Flickr Creative Commons

Time for some new concessions at LAX.

While some union workers at Los Angeles International Airport were busy today protesting a contractor’s plan to terminate their healthcare benefits, the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners was busy approving a $331 million contract for the management of restaurants and shopping in two terminals, and the Theme Building.

Westfield Concession Management, a subsidiary of the Australia-based developer Westfield Group, was awarded the 17-year contract in a unanimous vote that guarantees Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) a minimum of $17.7 million in revenue the first year concessionaires are operational, and a $331 million payday over the life of the contract. 

The agreement stipulates that Westfield, a company already running concessions at nine other airports, will develop, lease and manage stores and restaurants at the Theme Building (with restrictions because of its historical landmark designation), in Terminal 2, and at the Tom Bradley International Terminal, including the "Bradley West" addition that's being built. 


TSA 'PreCheck' program arrives at LAX with speedy security options

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Getty Images


A new, passenger pre-screening program will have travelers flying through TSA security ASAP at LAX.

The Transportation Security Administration "PreCheck" pilot program touches down at Los Angeles International Airport on Jan. 18, offering pre-approved fliers an expedited security experience. 

At check-in, PreCheck enrolled passengers will not have to go shoeless and beltless, they can leave liquids and laptops inside carry-on luggage, as they mosey a reserved fast path through the security area.

Expedited screening does not guarantee immunity from standard security restrictions, however. Random searches and unexpected measures are still a possibility.

As part of the program's application process, individuals are required to release personal information, submit to fingerprinting and background checks, and participate in a face-to-face interview.