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Terminal Mixup Implicates TSA Agents In LAX Smuggling Plot 255

Posted by timothy
from the and-your-knees-go-on-these-yellow-dots dept.
First time accepted submitter ian_po writes "The U.S. Attorney's office has filed indictments against 7 people, including two Transportation Security Administration Screeners and two former TSA employees, after federal agents set up several smuggling sting operations. The alleged smuggling scheme was revealed after a suspected drug courier went to Terminal 5, where his flight was departing, instead of going through the Terminal 6 checkpoint his written instructions directed him to. Court documents indicate the plan was to return to Terminal 5 through a secure tunnel after being allowed through security by the accused Screener. The courier was caught with 10 pounds of cocaine at the other checkpoint by a different TSA agent. If convicted, the four TSA employees face a minimum of 10 years in Federal prison." If ten pounds of anything can get onto a plane by the simple expedient of bribery, please explain again why adult travelers, but not children, must remove their shoes as they stand massed in an unsecured part of a typical U.S. airport.
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Terminal Mixup Implicates TSA Agents In LAX Smuggling Plot

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  • The Weakest Link (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 26, 2012 @05:34PM (#39812733)

    As always, the weakest link in anything security related are humans. This begs the question of whether we really need the TSA

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 26, 2012 @05:38PM (#39812773)

    Really, how is one meant to sell cancer causing X-ray scanners if the public realizes that the costly scanners can't stop well funded people from bribing severely underfunded people.

  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @05:39PM (#39812801)

    So why would the TSA give a shit?

    Oh yeah, they'll never actually catch or stop an actual terrorist so using their fourth amendment exemption to search for things that aren't security risks is all they can actually do.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 26, 2012 @05:43PM (#39812841)

    I'd like to think that since these people were in positions of power regarding 'Homeland Security', TSA agents after all, are supposed to be there to stop threats right, that such a violation of public trust and authority would warrant them much harsher penalties than some common bloke caught smuggling dope. Sadly I know this not to be true.

    I've always thought that Federal employees, be it lowly TSA employees, postal workers right up to Supreme Court Justices, should be held to a much harsher judicial standard than your every day citizen, or local and state public servant. Why? Because the amount of power within the system that is retained by those positions, makes the violations of it that much more severe because they breaking the public trust.

    In short, if the system is rotten from within, kinda hard to support in it theory, much less in practice.

  • Re:Why? Because (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chas (5144) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @05:45PM (#39812867) Homepage Journal

    Because the TSA isn't about security, it is about making people feel secure.

    Wrong!

    The TSA isn't about security, or security theater, or making people feel secure.

    At this point, they're like every other useless, failed agency in this country. A bunch of hacks trying to cover their asses so they continue to get paid for doing a job that isn't actually needed.

  • by Skapare (16644) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @05:49PM (#39812921) Homepage

    ... an airplane how? Is the terrorist going to threaten to force everyone to snort it?

  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @05:50PM (#39812933)

    Who guards the guards?

  • I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @05:55PM (#39813011)
    I'm annoyed by the TSA as much as the next guy, but it's their job to screen people and baggage for threats to aircraft (snow globes, nail clippers, pasta sauce, hand grenades etc.). Since when is it their job to detect drugs? That's the job of the police, not the TSA. Cocaine and meth are not threats to aircraft.
  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Thursday April 26, 2012 @05:57PM (#39813047)

    Those humans are letting smugglers through ... but they haven't caught a single terrorist yet.

    I'd say that almost all of the "additional security" since the WTC attack is only "security theatre". Aside from the improved flight deck doors and increased passenger involvement.

    Get rid of the TSA.

  • Complete bullshit. (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 26, 2012 @05:58PM (#39813065)

    Um, excuse me, but did it escape your notice that the vast majority of terrorists in this country are white "Christians" on the extreme right?

    Complete bullshit. The vast majority of terrorists in this country today are black democrats who form "flash mobs" to terrorize retail stores and also seek out and beat the fuck out of random white victims as "justice for Trayvon".

  • by cjcela (1539859) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @06:01PM (#39813121)
    That is part of the issue. We would be much better off without 'guards'. People already know what to do in case of an emergency in an airplane these days. Stop wasting money in the TSA.
  • by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @06:02PM (#39813139)

    This begs the question of whether we really need the TSA

    No. I'd say it answers the question quite succinctly.

  • Re:Bribery, huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarkTempes (822722) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @06:05PM (#39813189)

    Of course they wouldn't possibly lie to you about what you're helping them smuggle.

  • Re:Bribery, huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tftp (111690) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @06:06PM (#39813195) Homepage

    Well, here's the question though, would these screeners have 'ignored' an explosive for $2,400?

    Do these screeners have a portable chemical lab kit right next to the pornoscanner? Are they trained chemists who know what to do with this lab kit to tell the difference between a drug and an explosive?

    Of course, once the screeners are paid the courier carries whatever he pleases, and nobody is going to check what it is.

    I think a TSA agent is probably more likely to turn a blink eye to cocaine than an actual threat to people's lives.

    Cocaine may be more destructive than explosives.

  • Re:Bribery, huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aintnostranger (1811098) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @06:07PM (#39813207)
    do you think the TSA guys checked that the guy was carrying what he told them? Oh, we are going to accept your bribe, but we'll check your package. I don't think so.
  • Re:Bribery, huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rhys (96510) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @06:10PM (#39813239) Homepage

    So you're saying that the TSA guy who took the bribe trusted the obviously trustworthy guy trying to bribe him that it was really coke, as opposed to say, 10 lbs of plastic explosives?

    Security theater to catch the rare stupid attacker and enrich the buddies of those in congress and nothing more is all it is.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 26, 2012 @06:28PM (#39813439)

    No TSA didn't catch them, TSA was allowing them to go through with the contraband and letting them use their secure employee areas to skip the other TSA checkpoints run by agents who haven't yet been paid off. Seriously though, this is more of a failure of the drug war, no other country is 1 gram of cocaine worth 20 bucks sorry, but making it so illegal has made it extremely profitable and this, being the USA, makes it irresistible since we're all 100% entirely profit motivated.

  • Re:Why? Because (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rtb61 (674572) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @06:51PM (#39813735) Homepage

    The principles behind the TSA are far worse than that. People's rights are slowly being boiled away. The TSA is about getting people used to random searches no matter where they are. There have been repeated efforts to expand the TSA to all public transport, not just planes.

    Also the TSA publicly and emphatically break the principle that "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal", instead the wealthy are specifically excluded from the predation of the TSA. This is not even hidden yet the majority blindly accept that the poor and middle class are routinely abused while the wealthy are left alone shoes on, never touched, carry on assault rifles, all the fluids they want on private or charter flights.

    So public enforcement of the principle that America is a classed society, those that are protected (as publicly described by a US president the haves and the haves more) from those that are abused (the have not). Then other lesson being driven home is the majority have no right to personal privacy of any kind either direct physical (naked scanners and direct sexual abuse) or belongings (phone, camera, computer data). Again with a distinction between rich and middle class/poor.

    All without a single hint of protest at people being treated differently, about a grossly unequal quality of treatment for the rich.

  • by tqk (413719) <s.keeling@mail.com> on Thursday April 26, 2012 @07:00PM (#39813861)

    Since they [were] caught, and are being tried, apparently someone is watching them.

    Caught by the drug runner's stupidity. Dude went down the wrong line, that's how they got snagged. I wouldn't say the TSA "caught" them by their elite skills.

    Considering all that we've been hearing about the TSA's investigative skills, I don't understand why anyone's surprised by the way this story's playing out. It just looks like more of the same that we should expect of them. Incompetent bunglers tripping over themselves and *wonder of wonders* an idiot falls into their laps. Woohoo! Got one. The surprise is they actually noticed.

    What a waste of money "security theatre" is. It's not even all that entertaining.

  • Re:Bribery, huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tftp (111690) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @07:30PM (#39814279) Homepage

    Drugs and wars over drugs killed more people than all airplane crashes, by all causes, combined.

  • Re:Terrible (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ahodgson (74077) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @07:32PM (#39814305)

    Starting with the countries that actually had a hand in 9/11. Like Saudi Arabia.

  • Re:Bribery, huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 26, 2012 @08:45PM (#39815129)

    Much as the recording of them accepting a bribe to let the explosive through would look very different than them performing their job duty without corruption..

    So - if the scenario goes like this:
    1) You accept bribe to permit 'cocaine' through, and the smuggler films you doing this
    2) Later on, a bomb is smuggled through while the smuggler lets you in on the fact that you were filmed.
    3) You: either report the issue and risk (perhaps reduced but still significant) prison time when the terrorists cooperatives release the video through anonymous means, or let the person through and cross your fingers.

    If you're the kind of person that accepted the bribe in the first place..
    you're probably the kind of person that would do 'b' and hope for the best..

    that's the problem with corruption - it corrupts.

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @10:09PM (#39816003)

    Oh and LMFAO at that article you linked, yeah a slideshow of some scenic places tells me a whole lot about how much people pay for cocaine

    If you read the captions on the slides, the pricing is right there. I'm sorry that you were distracted by the pretty pictures, I didn't create the slideshow.

    Yeah that's end user price I was talking about dealer rates...When you buy a kilo u ain't payin to 120 per gram, not if you intend to make money that is. You're talking about something that doesn't have a real cost to manufacture so at dealer levels they basically define the price at however much they want to move to keep their rep up this week.

    Why would you quote prices in gram for volume pricing that's usually purchased in kilos?

    In any case, the wholesale price of cocaine in the USA ranges from $14 to $39 per gram:

    http://www.narcoticnews.com/Cocaine-Prices-in-the-U.S.A.php [narcoticnews.com]

    While in the UK, you'll pay around 60 US dollars for a gram:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8044275.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    You may pay less if you're purchasing cut cocaine.

    And those numbers look suspiciously like averages...I mean, noones payin for a gram of anything illegal by the dollar, they pay in intervals of 5 because some drug dealers will actually shoot you in the head if you try to give them 1's or change. In other words, this article is bullshit.

    You are kidding, right? How else would you represent the price of cocaine in a country if not using averages? Would you just pick the price at some random street corner and use that as the price for the entire country? And then would you convert from whatever currency they use, then round to the nearest 5 US dollars since that's how a street dealer in the USA would price it?

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Friday April 27, 2012 @12:14AM (#39816937)

    "In any case, the wholesale price of cocaine in the USA ranges from $14 to $39 per gram:"

    Gee, thanks for telling me what I just told you.

    "How else would you represent the price of cocaine in a country if not using averages? "

    I wouldn't, there is no price of cocaine in a country...its variable. I was tryin to ridicule that, but you got caught up in semantics.

    Right - when you say Cocaine costs $20/gram in the USA, we should accept it as fact (which happens to prove your point). But when prices are quoted for other counties, they are just some ridiculous made up numbers that mean nothing because prices are variable.

    About Norway, but they actually have responsible drug policies in Norway and prefer to treat addiction, not vilify it, so I'm sure their price is so high because is so rare anyone in Norway wants cocaine, they can legally get other drugs. I just fail to see how that's proof of anything other than anyone can pull an article out of their ass on the internet.

    Sure, that makes perfect sense (?) -- the USA drives up cocaine prices with their insane drug policies, but Norway drives up cocaine prices with their sane drug polices. So if only the USA had more reasonable drug policies, cocaine would be less expensive than in say, Norway , which has sane policies. Oh wait, except that it costs more in Norway because they have more sane policies. So does that mean that USA drug policies keep cocaine cheaper?

    I firmly believe the war on drugs is misguided, but your logic isn't proving the point.

  • Re:Bribery, huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by isorox (205688) on Friday April 27, 2012 @04:15AM (#39818027) Homepage Journal

    So you're saying that the TSA guy who took the bribe trusted the obviously trustworthy guy trying to bribe him that it was really coke, as opposed to say, 10 lbs of plastic explosives?

    Security theater to catch the rare stupid attacker and enrich the buddies of those in congress and nothing more is all it is.

    I've seen the TSA catch people with bottles of water or penknives. Never seen them catch the "rare stupid attacker", and certainly not the even rarer smart attacker.

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