News and Press Releases

Joint Law Enforcement Investigationpromotes Airport Security

February 6, 2002

Las Vegas, Nev. - Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada, announced today that more than two dozen workers with access to security sensitive areas at McCarran International Airport have been indicted on federal charges ranging from making false statements to use of fraudulent Social Security numbers. The Indictments, returned on January 29, 2002, but unsealed today, are the result of Operation Tarmac, a massive multi-agency investigation designed to promote heightened security at the Airport.

All of the individuals charged in the Indictments worked at McCarran International Airport in positions requiring security clearances, and all had access to secured areas of the airport, such as the ramps, runways, aircraft, and kitchens where airplane food is prepared. Five were employed as "valet parkers" and had access to airport customers' vehicles. The defendants all reside in the Las Vegas commuting area.

As part of Operation Tarmac, agents reviewed the records of approximately 9,000 individuals employed at McCarran Airport who had access to secured areas. The review identified approximately 100 individuals for whom additional information was needed to ascertain whether they were properly documented. Ultimately, investigators found 27 persons who were not authorized to work in the United States and had access to sensitive areas of the airport.

Operation Tarmac, is being coordinated in part by the Anti-Terrorism Task Force in Nevada, and is part of a multi-agency effort to ensure the safety of the flying public and to promote heightened security at the nation's airports. The goal of the operation is to ensure that all persons with access to security sensitive areas of the airports meet certain background standards, and that they are all properly documented and authorized to work in the United States. This operation is the most recent in a series of such investigations that have occurred at airports across the country, including the airports in Salt Lake City, Utah, Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon. Agencies involved in the investigation are the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Federal Aviation Administration Civil Aviation Security Field Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Internal Revenue Service, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, United States Marshal Service, United States Secret Service, Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, and U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General.

"The federal government is committed to doing everything possible to ensure the safety of the traveling public," said United States Attorney Bogden. "We are taking a proactive approach to prevent acts threatening public safety and national security, and we are working cooperatively and collaboratively." "This cooperative spirit and sharing of information between agencies was demonstrated in this investigation, and was crucial in order to effect these Indictments."

If convicted, the defendants are facing up to five years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on the counts charging violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1001 (False Statements), five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on the counts charging violations of 42 U.S.C. § 408(a)(7)(B) (False Use of a Social Security Number), one year imprisonment and a $100,000 fine on the counts charging violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1028(a)(6) (Possession of False Identification Documents), and up to five years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on the counts charging violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1546(b)(2) (Unlawful Use of Identification Document). Any sentence following conviction, however, would be dictated by the United States Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of factors, and would be imposed in the discretion of the Court. Additionally, the defendants may be ordered deported by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Sharon Lever and Robert Bork. The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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