Four Flight Attendants Arrested For Smuggling Illicit Cash On Planes

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A money smuggling ring of flight attendants were arrested by federal agents last week for transporting millions in illicit drug money to Caribbean.

Flight attendants arrested on smuggling charges

Last week, federal authorities revealed on Wednesday that they have detained four flight attendants on allegations of using their jet-setting jobs to move drug proceeds from New York City to the Dominican Republic.

The flight attendants are facing accusations of illegally moving around $8 million to the popular tourist destination.

The New Yorkers who were charged, identified as Charlie Hernandez, 42, Sarah Valerio Pujols, 24, Emmanuel Torres, 34, and Jarol Fabio, 35, reportedly abused their statuses as “Known Crewmembers (KCMs).

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the designation permits crew members to skip standard TSA measures, including X-ray screenings, which the suspects allegedly exploited to move the huge amounts of cash between countries.

The flight attendants have allegedly been breaking the law since 2015 at a minimum, with both Torres and Fabio smuggling around $1.5 million each over an eight year period.

Flight attendants arrested after years long smuggling racket

Federal authorities have been building the case since at least December 2019, when Hernandez was handed $121,215 in dirty money by a confidential informant, then passed some of the funds on to Pujols to smuggle to the Dominican Republic.

“As alleged, these flight attendants smuggled millions of dollars of drug money and law enforcement funds that they thought was drug money from the United States to the Dominican Republic over many years by abusing their privileges as airline employees,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams remarked in a statement.

Delta Airlines has since confirmed that two of those charged are their employees in a statement.

“Delta has cooperated fully with law enforcement in this investigation and will continue to do so,” Delta Airlines NBC News reported.

This case isn’t the first instance of flight attendants being charged with smuggling.

An off-duty flight attendant who tried to board a plane at San Diego International Airport with over three pounds of fentanyl taped to her abdomen pleaded guilty to a federal drug possession charge in December 2022.

Terese L. White, 41, of Dallas, admitted to flying into San Diego from the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport while she was off the clock in October of that year.

Later that same day, before her scheduled flight to Boston, she attempted to board another plane with a huge amount of drugs strapped to her body.

Prosecutors said that White attempted to use the Known Crew Member queue to board, but was had the unfortunate luck of being chosen to go through the regular passenger screening process instead.

Flight attendant arrested for smuggling drugs

According to the complaint, she set off a walk-through metal detector and a full body scanner, which tipped off the TSA to the pounds of drugs concealed on her body.

Once the drugs were discovered, she told police that the fentanyl taped to her torso was “not what you think” and claimed a co-worker had helpfully provided her with a “mercury pack” to aid with weight loss.

“Drug traffickers use air, land and sea for personal gain, putting people’s lives in danger,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Shelly Howe said in a statement.

“We will continue the great work with our partners to bring traffickers to justice and keep our community safe.”

White admitted to attempting to use her flight attendant status to get through the security line without raising any red flags.

She pleaded guilty in December to one count of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl.

White initially faced a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, but was sentenced to four years in March 2023.

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