Las Vegas Airport Employee Sentenced To 36 Months In Prison For Role In Large-Scale Drug Trafficking Conspiracy
Anchorage, Alaska – U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced today that a Las Vegas man has been sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason to serve 36 months in prison for using his employment at McCarran International Airport to aid drug traffickers in sneaking large quantities of cocaine past security and onto Alaska-bound flights.
Bryan M. Bledsoe, of Las Vegas, previously pled guilty to conspiring with others to distribute cocaine. As part of his guilty plea, Bledsoe, an airline employee, admitted that he personally took bags full of cocaine through the secure area of McCarran International Airport and then delivered the drugs to co-conspirators who then transported the drugs to Anchorage for distribution. Overall, Bledsoe admitted being involved in the shipment of between five and fifteen kilograms of cocaine during the pendency of the conspiracy.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie C. Courter, who handled the sentencing hearing, the conspiracy began as early as 2012 and continued until June 2014. During that time, conspirators worked to import multiple kilograms of cocaine into Alaska from Las Vegas for distribution. After the drugs were sold, the conspirators then secreted more than one million dollars in cash proceeds out of Alaska and back to the Lower 48.
Bledsoe, an airline employee working at the airport, was recruited by conspirators to help them bypass security with the cocaine. On a regular basis, co-conspirators provided Bledsoe with bags containing multiple kilograms of cocaine. Bledsoe then used his airport employee credentials to bring the drugs into the airport without having to pass through security screening. Once in the secure area of the airport, Bledsoe then returned the un-scanned bags of cocaine to his co-conspirators who then boarded Alaska-bound flights to deliver the drugs.
On June 1, 2014, investigators actually observed Bledsoe and his co-conspirators in action. On that day, co-defendant Dewane Blue gave Bledsoe a bag containing ten kilograms of cocaine. Bledsoe then carried the drugs past security checkpoints and returned them to Blue. Blue then gave the drugs to a third co-conspirator, Daren Cole, who was scheduled to travel to Anchorage that afternoon. Before Cole boarded his flight, however, his carry-on was seized and agents recovered approximately ten kilograms of cocaine from inside.
During the sentencing hearing, Judge Gleason focused on the fact that Bledsoe had used his job as an airline employee to help perpetrate the drug trafficking scheme. She noted the seriousness of the offense and the need for the public to be protected, particularly when flying. She also focused on the need to deter others in the future from using their security clearances at airports to help commit crimes.
Bledsoe is the latest in a string of sentencing hearings related to this drug trafficking scheme. To date, the following individuals have been sentenced as part of this case:
Daren Cole:previously sentenced to 64 months in prison;
Michael Langdon: previously sentenced to 60 months in prison; and
Antonio Beckwith:previously sentenced to 24 months in prison
Two other defendants, including the leader of the conspiracy, are set to be sentenced in the coming months.
This case was investigated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Loeffler praised the work of the law enforcement agencies involved, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). These agencies were assisted by the FBI Anchorage Safe Streets Task Force, the Anchorage Police Department, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the Henderson Police Department, the North Las Vegas Police Department and the Clark County Department of Aviation.