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Press Release

Final Defendant In Scheme That Smuggled Drugs Through TSA Screening Checkpoints At LAX Sentenced To Nearly 7 Years In Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California

LOS ANGELES – A former screener with the Transportation Security Administration who conspired to smuggle narcotics through screening checkpoints at Los Angeles International Airport was sentenced today to 80 months in prison.

Naral Richardson, 32, of South Los Angeles, who was the facilitator of the scheme that involved three TSA screeners at LAX, was sentenced by United States District Judge Margaret M. Morrow. Richardson is the last of seven defendants in this case to be sentenced to federal prison.

Richardson made arrangements so that 45 kilograms of cocaine, 4 kilograms of methamphetamine and 22 kilograms of marijuana were allowed to pass through security screening checkpoints at LAX.

Richardson pleaded guilty in March to a drug-trafficking conspiracy count, admitting that he used his contacts at LAX to facilitate and profit from five “pass-throughs” of drugs at LAX. During these pass-throughs, Richardson arranged for corrupt TSA screeners to look the other way as couriers carried suitcases containing cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana through the airport for distribution around the country. As part of the scheme, Richardson arranged for the couriers and corrupt screeners to meet beforehand so they would recognize each other and the courier would get into the correct screening lane.

Richardson worked as a screener until he was terminated by the TSA in February 2011, and while employed at LAX he “routinely allowed high-volume drug traffickers to pass drugs through his security screening lane for as much as $1,000 per pass-through,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed with the court.

The co-defendants previously sentenced in this scheme are:

John Brandon Whitfield, 25, of Los Angeles, a former TSA screener, who received a sentence of 70 months imprisonment;

Joy Lenisha White, 29, of Compton, a former TSA screener, who was sentenced to 70 months in prison;

Capeline Sheri McKinney, 27, of Los Angeles, a former TSA screener, who received a sentence of 50 months imprisonment;

Duane Lewis Eleby, 30, of Downey, a drug courier, who was sentenced to 90 months in prison;

Terry Dean Cunningham, 30, of Los Angeles, a drug courier, who received a sentence of 18 months imprisonment; and

Stephen Anthony Bayliss, 30, of Los Angeles, a drug courier, who was sentenced to 41 months in prison.

The investigation into this case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration and IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the auspices of the Los Angeles High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).

Substantial assistance was provided by the Transportation Security Administration, the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, the Los Angeles International Airport Narcotics Task Force, and the Los Angeles Airport Police.

Release No. 14-125

Updated June 22, 2015