SAN FRANCISCO – Two San Francisco International Airport security screeners were among the three individuals arrested and arraigned today on charges of bribery and drug smuggling, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge David Johnson, Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Special Agent in Charge Bruce Balzano, and Transportation Security Administration Office of Inspection Special Agent in Charge Regan Fong. A federal complaint charging the three individuals with drug smuggling and bribery-related charges was unsealed this morning.
According to the complaint, Claudio Rene Sunux, 30, of San Francisco, and Amanda Lopez, 27, of South San Francisco, were security screeners contracted with the Transportation Security Administration. In exchange for an offer of money from Anibal Giovanni Ramirez, 28, of San Francisco, Sunux and Lopez agreed to allow pounds of methamphetamine to be smuggled in carry-on luggage through the security checkpoint at SFO. Ramirez, Sunux, and Lopez coordinated the operation, in part, through messages on Facebook.
All three defendants, Sunux, Lopez, and Ramirez, are charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841. In this case, violation of the statute carries a mandatory minimum of ten years and can result in a life sentence and a maximum fine of $10 million. The security screeners, Sunux and Lopez, also are charged with agreement to receive a bribe by a public official, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(2), while Ramirez is charged with offering to bribe a public official, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(1). For these offenses, the maximum term of imprisonment is 15 years, and the maximum fine is $250,000 or three times the monetary equivalent of the thing of value. Conviction for the bribery-related charges also may result in disqualification from holding any office of honor, trust, or profit in the United States.
A complaint contains only allegations. Sunux, Lopez, and Ramirez, as with all defendants, must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. In addition, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Sunux and Lopez are scheduled to appear Monday, March 9, 2015 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James for identification of counsel. Ramirez is scheduled to appear before Magistrate Judge James on Wednesday March 11, 2015 for a detention hearing. All three defendants currently are in federal custody.
Adam Wright and Jeffrey Shih are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys prosecuting the case, with the assistance of Rawaty Yim and Yanira Osorio. The investigation of Sunux, Lopez, and Ramirez has involved officers and agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Transportation Security Administration Office of Inspection, and the Oakland Police Department. This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a focused multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force investigating and prosecuting significant drug trafficking organizations throughout the United States by leveraging the combined expertise of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.