Authorities bust drug smuggling ring, operation flew into CLT airport


Each faces a charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a schedule II controlled substance, but some of the 10 are accused of conspiring to move other contraband, such as weapons and explosives, on aircraft departing the airport, according to a news release from the USA attorney's office in Dallas.

No real drugs were ever used during the sting.

Seven of the workers were employed by Envoy Airlines, a subsidiary of American Airlines. Authorities did not have information on the tenth suspect.

A Spirit spokesman quoted by Dallas News said the airline "has been advised of this matter and will cooperate fully with law enforcement".

"We have zero tolerance for employees who seek to undermine and evade the security protocols at airports", said U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox. They were moving what they believed to be meth through the airport, charging undercover agents they believed to be drug smugglers between $1,500 and $2,000 per kilogram, according to federal authorities. Worth International Airport, FBI officials said at a press conference in Texas on Tuesday.

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According to the release, The counterfeit drugs were transported to various locations throughout the US, including Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, and Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Arizona. The defendants also acted as "look-outs" or engage in counter-surveillance to undermine police, court documents said.

Eventually, aided by an Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, the four employees - Molitoni Katoa, Janelle Isaacs, Moniteveti Katoa and Funaki Falahola - helped move kilograms of a substance they believed was cocaine from D/FW to Las Vegas; Newark; Phoenix; Chicago; Wichita, Kansas; and San Francisco, the feds said.

At least one defendant had said he would transport firearms on commercial flights.

The 10 were charged Monday on a count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a Schedule II controlled substance, reports theDallas Morning News.

The arrestees named in the indictment are: Envoy employees Nelson Pabon, Jean Loui Vargas-Malave, Juan Comancho Melendez, Ruben Benito-Matienzo, Joshua Israel Pagan Zapata, Domingo Villafane Martinez III and Luis Javier Collazo Rosado; Spirit employee Jose Luis Gaston-Rolon and former Spirit employee Christian David Cruz.