Wednesday, July 27, 2016

3 kilos of cocaine found on JetBlue planes months after flight attendant caught smuggling: Lake City, Columbia County, Florida

Several kilos of cocaine were found on two JetBlue planes that were brought to Lake City for maintenance last week. Columbia County Sheriff's Office

Airplane maintenance workers found some unexpected cargo onboard two JetBlue planes in Lake City -- 3 kilos of cocaine.

Columbia County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Murray Smith said those workers found 1 kilo of cocaine in a JetBlue plane on July 20 and then found two more kilos on another plane on July 24.

Both times, the workers told the sheriff’s office they found the bricks inside a compartment under the right wing, in the wall of the luggage compartment.

“Someone lost 3 kilos of powder cocaine, which is a street value of about $180,000. So someone’s either going to get fired or maybe lose a limb or something,” said Smith.

The first plane had most recently flown from the Dominican Republic to JFK in New York City.

JetBlue planes get taken out of service every three months and fly to HAECO for routine maintenance.

“When the planes come here, they are basically checked from top to bottom. Every system is checked. Every panel is removed,” said Smith.

The Drug Enforcement Agency’s Jacksonville office spokesman said drug suppliers abroad sometimes pay airport workers or baggage handlers to smuggle it into a compartment.

At foreign airports, those workers are not always airline employees.

“So there may be someone off the street that doesn’t have the background checks that a normal U.S. company would have. So those people have their hands on the aircraft. So you’re talking about a large pool of suspects,” said Smith.

Smith said it’s likely whoever was supposed to receive those drugs missed the shipment before the plane flew to Lake City for maintenance.

Smith said it’s rare to find powder cocaine in Columbia County. The most common drugs there are synthetic opiates and meth.

All those indicators are telling us someone lost their drugs. They weren’t supposed to end up in Lake City, Florida,” said Smith.

It’s not the first time this year JetBlue has had a run-in with cocaine smuggling.

Earlier this year, investigators said a JetBlue flight attendant left 68 pounds of cocaine at a LAX security checkpoint, kicked off her Gucci heels like Cinderella, and ran from TSA agents.

She’s accused of smuggling about 60 pounds more cocaine than what the maintenance workers in Lake City found in the past week.

Smith said JetBlue is fully cooperating with the investigation.

It’s one of at least four airlines that fly their planes in for service at HAECO’s Lake City hangar.


Several kilos of cocaine were found on two JetBlue planes as they were being serviced in Lake City, deputies said.

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office said the three kilos of cocaine were found when the passenger planes were brought to a Lake City servicing company.

The drugs were discovered on two separate JetBlue A320 planes over a span of five days. The drugs were located in the same place on both planes, deputies said.

Authorities did not release in what part of the plane the drugs were placed.

Investigators said one of the planes had flown 360 times in the past three months, with various international and domestic destinations. The most recent trip had been from the Dominican Republic to John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in New York.

The other plane’s itinerary was not released.

Authorities said JetBlue has fully cooperated in the investigation and provided information on its procedures and schedules.


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