SAN FRANCISCO—On Friday, November 6, three security screeners working for the San Francisco International Airport were accused of taking payoffs to grant access to cocaine smugglers through airport security.
According to the Justice Department, the three employees of Covenant Aviation Security have been indicted on fraud and drug smuggling charges. Covenant Aviation Security is a contracted private company that works with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to provide additional security for the airport.
The three employees were identified as Jessica Scott of San Pablo, Michael Castaneda of Daly City, and Joseph Scott of Vallejo. All three have been charged with two counts of conspiring to defraud the TSA by obstructing lawful government function, and conspiring to distribute/possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine.
If convicted, Joseph Scott, Castaneda, and Jessica Scott could receive a sentences of between 15 years to life imprisonment, and a fine of $1.25 million each.
According to court documents, the three employees arranged for the smugglers to pass through certain security checkpoint x-ray machines in exchange for an undisclosed amount of money. The cocaine was said to be in the smugglers’ carry-ons.
In official court documents, a revealed plan disclosed one of the accused screeners would preemptively meet with one of the smugglers at the airport prior to x-ray screening as to properly identify the smuggler. The documents indicated that the smugglers would then be directed to the lines where they would be passed through by the two remaining employees monitoring passengers.
The Undercover Drug Enforcement and TSA agents found that these transactions occurred on five different occasions in a 13-month span between May 2013 an April 2014.
As of Saturday, November 7, authorities have released Joseph and Jessica Scott on $50,000 bonds, Castaneda is still in custody and is pending a detention hearing on Monday, November 9.