May 2, 2012
A third former TSA agent arrested last September in a drug trafficking operation at Westchester County Airport admitted to her role in the scheme to get oxycodone, other narcotics and drug money around security checkpoints at the facility.
Brigitte Jones, 49, a former TSA officer at the New York airport, pleaded guilty to federal charges related to her acceptance of cash in exchange for assisting in the transportation of the drugs and drug money through airport security, said an April 30 statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of Connecticut. Jones is the third of three former TSA officers to plead guilty to federal charges stemming from the investigation, along with a former Westchester County Police officer and former Florida State Trooper, said the office. A total of 20 people were charged in the case, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
The group was charged after a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation into allegations the TSA agents accepted cash payments and gift cards in exchange for looking the other way when shipments of thousands of oxycodone pills came through security checkpoints at Palm Beach International Airport and Westchester County Airport.
The investigation dubbed “Operation Blue Coast,” was headed by the DEA’s Bridgeport High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force into the large-scale trafficking of oxycodone pills from Florida to Connecticut. The inquiry revealed that an individual regularly purchased oxycodone from suppliers in Florida, transported it to Connecticut by commercial airline or automobile, and sold the pills to various Connecticut-based narcotics dealers. The narcotics trafficker bought the oxycodone pills for approximately $5.00 per pill, and traveled to Connecticut several times a week carrying up to 8,000 oxycodone pills per trip, said the attorney’s office.
He then used drivers to transport him to and from narcotics transactions during which he would sell the pills to Connecticut-based dealers for between $10.50 and $13.00 per pill, said the U.S. Attorney’s office. After exchanging low-denomination currency for larger notes, he transported the money from his oxycodone sales from Connecticut to Florida, either by having a courier drive the money or by using commercial airline flights, it said. The Connecticut-based dealers, according to the attorney’s office, then sold the pills to lower-level dealers and drug customers for between $23.00 and $30.00 per pill.
According to court documents and statements, Jones, who was a TSA officer at Westchester airport at the time, was aware the Florida trafficker was transporting large quantities of oxycodone from Florida to sell in Connecticut and then taking the cash his sales through Westchester County Airport on his way back to Florida. Jones, said the documents, got cash payments for as much as $1,000 to look the other way and for promises the trafficker wouldn’t be stopped by TSA agents. The trafficker ultimately began cooperating with the DEA and helped in Jones’ arrest.
During the investigation, a recorded conversation a captured Jones making plans with the trafficker. “Just tell me what time you’re coming in. Tell me what flight you’re going to be on, what time you’re going to be at the airport. When you get to the airport and you’re there and you’re checking in at the counter, you let me know so when you’re coming through security, I’ll take care of the rest,” she said according to court records.
Jones plead guilty on April 30 to extortion charges that carry a maximum 20 year prison sentence and one count of bribery that carries a maximum 15 year sentence.. She is scheduled for sentencing on July 25.
This article was posted: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 3:18 am