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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 2, 2016

Former American Airlines Employee Sentenced to 72 months in Federal Prison for Role in Conspiracy to Transport, or Assist in Transporting, a Substance Represented to be Cocaine on Flights from DFW Airport as Part of an Undercover Law Enforcement Operation

 DALLAS — A former American Airlines employee who admitted to her role in transporting a substance that was represented to be cocaine on flights from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) was sentenced today to a lengthy federal prison sentence, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.

Janelle Isaacs, 42, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jane J. Boyle to 72 months in federal prison following her guilty plea in June 2016 to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute at least five kilograms or more of cocaine.  Isaacs has been in custody since mid-July 2015 following a law enforcement operation, led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Dallas Police Department and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, in which numerous defendants were arrested on drug distribution conspiracy and related charges outlined in a federal superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Dallas the previous month.

That superseding indictment charged Janelle Isaacs, Funaki Falahola, 35, Moniteveti Katoa, 53, Molitoni Katoa, 34, with the cocaine distribution conspiracy offense. All four defendants pleaded guilty to the offense. In September 2016, Moniteveti Katoa was sentenced to 188 months and Molitoni Katoa was sentenced to 90 months in federal prison. In November 2016, Funaki Falahola was sentenced to 240 months in federal prison. 

According to documents filed in the case, the four used their positions of employment at DFW, or contacted a person or persons who had a position or positions of employment at DFW, to bypass security in order to transport kilogram quantities of a substance that was represented to be cocaine, in what they did not know was an undercover law enforcement operation.  As part of the conspiracy, that ran from approximately April 18, 2013, through July 14, 2015, the substance that was represented to be cocaine was transported on commercial airlines flying from DFW to destinations in Las Vegas, Nevada; Newark, New Jersey; Phoenix, Arizona; Chicago, Illinois; Wichita Kansas; and San Francisco, California.

Isaacs admits she became suspicious that Moniteveti Katoa, her husband, was transporting some sort of controlled substance via commercial airlines around 2013 when he asked her if she could provide him information on where law enforcement officers were seated on airplanes. Despite Isaacs’ suspicion she admits to helping Moniteveti Katoa with his flight arrangements and air travel.

Moniteveti Katoa asked Isaacs to perform a “dry run” with a legal substance called “kava” so that she could build up her courage to cross a bag that contained what she believed to be cocaine. Isaacs performed at least one dry run in order to prepare her to bypass security.

On December 8, 2014, Moniteveti Katoa went to DFW Airport and met with Isaacs. Isaacs took a backpack that was provided by Moniteveti Katoa towards the TSA checkpoint, walked towards the employee portal, bypassed security, and then later provided that same backpack to Moniteveti Katoa so that he could fly, what she and Moniteveti Katoa believed was 3 kilograms of something illegal, to a destination in Kansas and deliver it for payment.

The FBI, Dallas Police Department and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation led the investigation with assistance from the Texas Department of Public Safety; the DFW Department of Public Safety; the U.S. Department of State; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Transportation Security Administration; the U.S. Secret Service; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Enforcement and Removal Operations; and the Fort Worth, McKinney, Mesquite, and Plano Police Departments.

Assistant U.S. Attorney George Leal is in charge of the prosecution.

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Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Component(s): 
Updated December 2, 2016