TSA and Delta Employees Indicted in Drug Smuggling Sting at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport
FEB 20 -- Atlanta, GA - LESLIE ADGAR, 42, of Decatur, Georgia, ANDRE MAYS, 24, of Atlanta, Georgia, and JON PATTON, 44, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, were indicted today by a federal grand jury on charges relating to a drug-smuggling operation at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (“HJIA”). All three are in custody and late this afternoon made their initial appearance before a United States Magistrate today in federal court in Atlanta.
Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division stated, “The key information in the case came from the Kings County District Attorney’s Office in New York, and that lead was significant. These defendants betrayed the trust of the American public by breaching the ever-important role of frontline airport security. Their greed led to their demise. The concerted efforts of a multitude of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies made the success of this investigation possible.”
United States Attorney David E. Nahmias said, “These individuals allegedly abused their positions at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport to smuggle drugs past security and onto Delta flights. This indictment should serve as a cautionary tale for others who would betray the trust that the public places in the frontline workers at our nation’s airports: such illegal conduct will be discovered and the offenders swiftly brought to justice. We appreciate the good work of our law enforcement partners and the cooperation of Delta Air Lines in this investigation.”
Kings County (New York) District Attorney Charles J. Hynes said, "I would like to commend the DEA and TSA for their hard work in this important investigation. We are pleased that we were able to play a significant role in the indictment of these defendants."
“We have been involved with this investigation from the very beginning and have cooperated fully with law enforcement and our federal partners to vigorously pursue this case and at the same time ensure that security operations at the airport were never put at risk,” said Mike Davis, Special Agent in Charge, TSA Office of Inspection, Atlanta Field Office. “We know we have a special trust with the public and that's why we aggressively pursue any criminal activity that may occur in our own ranks. We have zero tolerance for criminal behavior --any officer who does not reflect the integrity of our workforce and instead violates the law will be referred for prosecution.”
According to Nahmias, the indictment, and other information presented in court: PATTON and MAYS are Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees working at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. ADGAR is a Delta Air Lines employee, also assigned to HJIA. In December 2007, a confidential source (“CS”) working for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) brokered a deal with TSA employee PATTON for the transportation of two kilograms of cocaine through HJIA to New York. PATTON set transportation fees of $5,000 for the first kilogram of cocaine and $3,000 for every kilogram thereafter. PATTON subsequently provided the CS with a piece of luggage that was later used to carry the two kilograms of cocaine past security and onto the Delta Air Lines flight.
On December 19, 2007, at the direction of the DEA, the CS met with PATTON and a second TSA employee, ANDRE MAYS, at HJIA and handed them a carry-on bag packed with two kilograms of fake cocaine and $4,000. Both PATTON and MAYS were in TSA uniform and on duty at HJIA when they took receipt of the luggage. The $4,000 was one-half of the total $8,000 transportation fee; the plan was for the CS to hand the second $4,000 to Delta employee LESLIE ADGAR in New York upon delivery of the sham drugs.
After taking possession of the CS’s bag, PATTON and MAYS entered a bathroom in HJIA’s North Terminal with PATTON carrying the luggage. Approximately two minutes later, PATTON was observed inside the bathroom standing outside of a closed bathroom stall talking to MAYS in the stall. PATTON no longer possessed the CS’s bag. MAYS was not visible but the CS’s bag was on the floor inside the stall outside of which PATTON was standing. Approximately two minutes later, PATTON and MAYS exited the bathroom together; PATTON once again was carrying the CS’s bag. MAYS, who had entered the bathroom with his coat open, now had his coat closed. MAYS was next spotted on the other side of the security check point.
PATTON then walked around the magnetometers, sending the CS’s bag through the x-ray machine. PATTON and the bag were not challenged by TSA screeners. PATTON retrieved the bag and eventually met with ADGAR in the T concourse, providing her with the CS’s bag. ADGAR immediately boarded a Delta Air Lines flight to New York’s LaGuardia Airport. After arriving at LaGuardia, ADGAR met with the CS, who paid ADGAR the remaining $4,000 of the smuggling fee; ADGAR, in turn, gave the CS his bag with the two kilograms of fake cocaine. Approximately one hour later, ADGAR boarded another Delta flight and returned to Atlanta.
In late January, the CS and PATTON negotiated their second smuggling transaction. On January 23, 2008, again at the direction of the DEA, the CS traveled to HJIA and provided PATTON with the same carry-on bag that was used in the December deal. This time, however, the bag was packed with one kilogram of fake heroin and $4,500. PATTON was in uniform and on duty when he took receipt of the luggage.
After taking the bag from the CS, PATTON passed the heroin through the security checkpoint without notice. He then proceeded to the area around Gate T-8, where he gave ADGAR the bag. ADGAR then boarded a Delta flight bound for LaGuardia Airport. After arriving in New York, ADGAR deplaned and returned the bag with the sham heroin in it to the CS. In exchange, the CS handed ADGAR the remaining $4,500. Approximately one hour later, ADGAR boarded a Delta flight from New York to Orlando.
A third and final transaction occurred on February 15, 2008. The CS and PATTON negotiated a three-kilogram cocaine deal, again from Atlanta to New York. On this date, the CS arrived at HJIA and provided PATTON with the same carry-on bag that had been used in the previous two deals. The bag was packed with three kilograms of fake cocaine and cash. PATTON was again in TSA uniform and on duty at HJIA when he took receipt of the luggage. Subsequently, PATTON passed the fake cocaine through security without incident. Inside the airport, PATTON provided ADGAR with the bag. ADGAR was arrested by DEA agents while attempting to board a Delta flight to LaGuardia Airport. The sham narcotics were also recovered. PATTON and MAYS were arrested shortly thereafter.
The indictment handed down today charges PATTON and ADGAR with conspiring to distribute narcotics and attempting to distribute cocaine and heroin on the three dates drugs were smuggled through HJIA to New York. MAYS is charged with the drug conspiracy and attempting to distribute cocaine on December 19, 2007. The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine of up to $4,000,000.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent of the charges; it will be the Government's burden to prove the defendants' guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, with assistance from Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General, Transportation Security Administration, (TSA), the Kings County (New York) District Attorney’s Office, the Doraville Police Department, Atlanta Task Force 1 local member agencies: City of Covington Police Department, City of Marietta Police Department, City of Griffin Police Department, City of East Point Police Department, Clayton County Sheriff’s Office, City of College Park Police Department, City of Atlanta Police Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Delta Airlines Corporate Security, and the DEA/New York Organized Crime Strike Force.
Assistant United States Attorneys Kurt R. Erskine and Robert C. McBurney are prosecuting the case.
The DEA Atlanta Field Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Rodney G. Benson, recommends that parents and children educate themselves about the dangers of drug abuse by visiting DEA’s interactive website at www.justhinktwice.com
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