Flight attendants charged for smuggling drug money to DR

United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams and the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Ivan J. Arvelo announced on 8 May 2024 the arrest of several flight attendants for money smuggling on flights from New York to the Dominican Republic.

In total, the defendants are estimated to have smuggled US$8 million in bulk cash from the United States to the Dominican Republic.

US Attorney Damian Williams said: “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. Today’s charges should serve as a reminder to those who break the law by helping drug traffickers move their money that crime doesn’t pay.”

Flight attendants 42-year old Charlie Hernandez, 42 year old Sarah Valerio Pujols, 34-year old Emmanuel Torres and 35-year old Jarol Fabio are charged with various offenses in connection with their years-long participation in smuggling narcotics trafficking proceeds from the United States to the Dominican Republic on commercial flights. All of the defendants were arrested on 7 May 2024 and are residents of New York or New Jersey.

The charges carry maximum sentences of 5 to 10 years in prison.

The investigations under HIS Special Agent Arvelo working with the New York Police Department revealed that the crew members knowingly smuggled large amounts of illicit money linked to the sale of narcotics, to include fentanyl, and took advantage of airport security checkpoints by using their trusted positions as flight attendants.

The investigation has exposed critical vulnerabilities in the airline security industry and has illuminated methods that narcotics traffickers are utilizing.

A cooperating witness arrested in 2021 helped build the case that led to the arrest of the crew members. As revealed, the recruited crew members who worked routes between New York City and the DR were corrupted and in exchange for a fee that usually was a small percentage of the cash transported, they would smuggle the bulk cash via the KCM lane (Known Crew Member) security lane where there is less scrutiny than that for normal passengers.

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US Justice
New York Post
Diario Libre

9 May 2024