A suspected drug courier allegedly linked to federal security screeners who have been accused of taking bribes to allow drugs to pass through X-ray machines at LAX turned himself in today.
Duane Eleby, 28, of Downey, surrendered to federal authorities, according to U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Thom Mrozek.
A federal indictment unsealed Wednesday accuses two current and two ex- security screeners at Los Angeles International Airport of taking cash to allow large shipments of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine to pass through security checkpoints.
The indictment also includes charges against Eleby and two other alleged drug couriers, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. One is in state custody, and the other is expected to surrender Friday, Mrozek said.
Eleby allegedly attempted to bring nearly five kilograms of cocaine through a security checkpoint, but the narcotics were seized by law enforcement when he went to the wrong terminal, prosecutors said.
The 22-count grand jury indictment outlines five specific incidents in which current and former TSA employees allegedly took payments of as much as $2,400 to allow suitcases filled with drugs to pass through X-ray machines at LAX while federal screeners looked the other way.
In addition to Eleby, the indictment names:
- Naral Richardson, 30, of Los Angeles, who was arrested Wednesday morning. Richardson, who was fired by the TSA in 2010, is accused of orchestrating the five incidents in which TSA screeners allegedly agreed to waive narcotics through security checkpoints.
- John Whitfield, 23, of Los Angeles, who was arrested Tuesday night. Whitfield, a TSA screener who allegedly worked with Richardson to allow nearly four kilograms of meth to pass through LAX security, is also accused of personally allowing more than 20 kilograms of cocaine to pass through LAX security.
- Joy White, 27, of Compton, who was arrested Wednesday morning. White, whose employment was terminated by the TSA last year, was stationed at LAX screening checkpoints when she allegedly allowed drugs to pass through, including a shipment of more than 20 kilograms of cocaine.
- Capeline McKinney, 25, of Los Angeles, who was arrested Wednesday morning. The TSA screener allegedly allowed more than 20 kilograms of cocaine to pass through her security checkpoint.
- Terry Cunningham, 28, of Los Angeles, an alleged drug courier, is expected to surrender Friday.
- Stephen Bayliss, 28, of Los Angeles, an alleged drug courier who is in state custody.
"The allegations in this case describe a significant breakdown of the screening system through the conduct of individuals who placed greed above the nation's security needs," said U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr.
If convicted of all charges in the indictment, the current and former TSA officials each face potential multiple-year prison sentences, up to life behind bars, prosecutors said.