STAMFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — You trust them to protect you, but on Tuesday Transportation Security Agency agents were accused of betraying the public and helping drug smugglers.
And has CBS 2’s Lou Young reports, they allegedly had help from the police.
The feds say three TSA agents and two police officers were among those arrested in an interstate pill smuggling ring that used Westchester County Airport as a major conduit.
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It was disheartening news for passengers depending on security procedures to keep them safe.
“I think maybe all these people need to be subject to tighter screening. It’s just shocking it would happen,” one person said.
The TSA officers allegedly accepted cash and gift cards to look the other way as oxycondone pills poured in and millions in cash flowed out.
When asked if the TSA agents were corrupted for essentially chump change, U.S. Attorney David Fein said, “Those are your words, essentially $500 a trip is what is described in the complaint.”
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The Drug Enforcement Agency says it arrested their key cooperating witness — a smuggler — back in April and he got TSA agents, two in Florida and one in New York, and a Westchester County police officer assigned to the airport on tape telling him, “let us know when you’re coming, what flight, what time and you will sail on through,” which is what he did, while the DEA watched and built their case.
Westchester Police Commissioner George Longworth said he suspended Officer Michael Brady without pay after his arrest Monday night.
Longworth said he knew the feds were looking at his officer and said the 30-member security detail assigned to the airport can expect a shake-up.
“I can assure you that we are looking at every aspect of our operation at the airport. We will be re-evaluating and making some changes. I wouldn’t say heads are gonna roll, but there will be changes,” Longworth said.
The ring involved flights two and from West Palm Beach, Fla., and Westchester. Sixteen people are in custody on both ends, with more arrests expected.
The other law enforcement officer arrested in the sweep is a Florida state trooper who had agreed to handle security for drug transactions in Connecticut.