From Cabin Crew to Criminals: Flight Attendants Arrested in Drug Money Bust

By Ivan PetrenkoMay 13, 2024 12:30 PMNews
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Image of a skull on a black background. Source: unsplash

Four flight attendants have been apprehended in New York City on charges of smuggling millions of dollars in drug money to the Dominican Republic. The suspects, identified as Charlie Hernandez, Sarah Valerio Pujols, Emmanuel Torres, and Jarol Fabio, allegedly abused their privileges as airline employees to carry out the illicit operation.

Authorities stated that the flight attendants took advantage of their access to the "Known Crewmember (KCM)" lane at John F. Kennedy International Airport, bypassing security checks and facilitating the transportation of large sums of cash undetected. According to a complaint filed by Homeland Security Investigations, this lane allows airline crew members to move through security without undergoing X-ray scans, providing an opportunity to transport significant amounts of money without detection.

The suspects face charges related to unlicensed money transmission, with accusations of smuggling approximately $8 million in total to the Dominican Republic. According to U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, the flight attendants took advantage of their roles to transport both drug money and illicit funds under the guise of law enforcement funds.

One informant allegedly provided Hernandez with over $121,000, proceeds from narcotics trafficking, of which a portion was passed on to Pujols for transport in December 2019. Torres and Fabio are accused of separately transporting $1.5 million each over several years.

Delta Airlines confirmed that two of the accused individuals are employed by the company and stated cooperation with law enforcement in the investigation.

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