Ex-TSA Officers Indicted for Conspiring and Attempting to Smuggle Drugs through Hartsfield-Jackson
ATLANTA - Two ex-TSA Officers were indicted today for conspiring and attempting to smuggle cocaine through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, at a time when they were employed by TSA, announced Sally Quillian Yates, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. Richard C. Cook II, 27, of Henry County, Georgia and Timothy G. Gregory, 25, of DeKalb County, Georgia, have been indicted by a federal grand jury for multiple counts of drug trafficking. In addition to the cocaine charges, Cook was charged with attempting to possess with intent to distribute heroin.
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “Our nation’s well-being depends, in part, on the security of its airports. Moreover, the citizens of this district are entitled to law enforcement officers who obey the laws that they have sworn to enforce. The crimes with which Cook and Gregory are charged created a breach in the security of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and betrayed the trust of millions of passengers who travel through this airport each year.”
James E. Ward, Special Agent in Charge, Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General (OIG), Atlanta Field Office, stated: “The DHS OIG is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to identify and aggressively investigate all allegations of corruption to protect the integrity of DHS personnel, programs, and operations. Acts of corruption within DHS represent a threat to our nation and undermine the honest and hardworking employees, who strive to maintain the integrity of the Department. Corruption will not be tolerated and those who choose to break the law will be pursued vigilantly.”
Brian D. Lamkin, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated: “These types of investigations are priorities within our criminal program because of the vast potential harm caused by such actions as is alleged in this indictment. The FBI will continue to work with our various law enforcement partners in identifying and aggressively investigating those individuals who would betray the public trust for personal greed.”
Chris Atwater, Assistant Chief Deputy United States Marshal stated: “The United States Marshals Service is committed to protecting the public whose safety is entrusted to us each day. This case is an example of the agency’s commitment to ensure that those who hold a position of public trust and violate such will be fully investigated.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: Beginning in January 2012, on multiple occasions, Cook and Gregory misused their positions as officers with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to smuggle what they believed to be illegal drugs through Atlanta’s airport security.
More specifically, on January 11, 2012, Cook met with two undercover officers, both of whom were posing as drug cartel members. During the meeting, the undercover officers provided Cook with 3 kilograms of fake drugs, that Cook believed to be heroin, and $3,500 in cash, which was partial payment to Cook to smuggle the fake drugs through airport security. Thereafter, Cook, who was wearing his TSA uniform, went to the airport, transported the sham drugs through the TSA security checkpoint, and delivered the sham drugs to an undercover officer inside the terminal. Cook was then paid another $4,000 in cash, which was the remaining payment for smuggling the sham drugs through security.
Similarly, on January 26, 2012, Cook met with an undercover officer before Cook reported for his TSA shift at the airport. During this meeting, the undercover officer provided Cook with three (3) kilograms of fake drugs that Cook believed to be heroin, and $4,000 in cash, which was partial payment to Cook to smuggle the fake drugs through airport security. Thereafter, Cook, who was wearing his TSA uniform, went to the airport, transported the fake kilograms through the TSA security checkpoint, and delivered the sham drugs to another undercover officer in the terminal. The undercover officer then paid Cook $3,500, which was the remaining portion of Cook’s fee for smuggling the sham drugs through security. In both sting operations, Cook believed that he was smuggling heroin through airport security.
In February 2012, Cook resigned from the TSA. However, Cook recruited TSA Officer Gregory to assist with the drug smuggling operation. Cook introduced Gregory to the undercover officers who were posing as drug traffickers, and received a referral fee of $1,000.
On February 24, 2012, an undercover officer provided Gregory with five (5) kilograms of fake cocaine and $5,000 in cash. Thereafter, Gregory, who was wearing his TSA uniform, went to the airport, transported the fake cocaine through the TSA security checkpoint, and delivered the sham drugs to another undercover officer in the terminal.
On May 4, 2012, undercover officers provided Gregory with ten (10) kilograms of fake cocaine, which Gregory had agreed to transport from Atlanta to Commerce, Georgia.
The indictment charges each defendant with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and multiple counts of substantive drug trafficking. The most serious of the charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000,000. In determining the actual sentence, the Court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security - Office of the Inspector General, and the United States Marshals Service.
Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey W. Davis is prosecuting the case.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government's burden to prove a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Atlanta recommends parents and children learn about the dangers of drugs at the following web site: www.justthinktwice.com.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney's Public Information Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.