Over the course of an nearly two-year investigation, the employees, seven of whom worked for American Airlines subsidiary Envoy, allegedly shipped 66 pounds of fake meth from D/FW to airports in Charlotte, North Carolina; Phoenix; and Newark, New Jersey.
The employees agreed to ship meth to cities across the US for as much as $1,500-2,000 per kilogram, the indictment said.
The first shipment occurred on September 30, 2016, when eight kilograms were sent to a Newark, New Jersey airport on American Airlines Flight 0952. At least one flight carrying the counterfeit drug went to Phoenix while another landed in Charlotte, North Carolina.
No real drugs were ever used during the sting.
Seven of those arrested worked for Envoy Air, a regional carrier owned by American Airlines, while two others were employees for Spirit Airlines.
A tenth suspect had not been arrested as of Tuesday.
Authorities say beginning in 2016 the group used their positions to bypass security and place the meth on flights.
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A Spirit spokesman quoted by Dallas News said the airline "has been advised of this matter and will cooperate fully with law enforcement".
"The undercover officers represented to these defendants that they had methamphetamine that needed to be shipped to other parts of our country".
Defendants also allegedly offered to smuggle firearms and, for a higher price, one even volunteered to smuggle explosives on flights, according to the indictment unsealed Tuesday.
The indictments were handed down on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance.
No guns or explosives were shipped during the investigation, Cox said.
The defendants named in the indictment include Nelson Pabon, 47, Jean Loui Vargas-Malave, 28, Juan Camacho Melendez, 22, Ruben Benitez-Matienzo, 45, Jose Luis Gaston-Rolon, 24, Joshua Israel Pagan Zapata, 21, Domingo Villafane Martinez, III, 30, Luis Javier Collazo Rosado, 21, Michael LNU, 23, and Cristian David Cruz-Rodriguez, 23.
They're expected to appear before a judge later this week, according to the Department of Justice. "This case shows the lengths that these individuals would go to, individuals who [were] trusted with insider knowledge of our airport system, to just obtain cash".
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