Smugglers Plead Guilty to Bribing TSA Agents to Clear Bags of Marijuana Through LAX Security
The first of several guilty pleas has been declared in court today by one of the smugglers who took part in a scheme to bribe Transportation Security Administration agents to put marijuana on flights out of Los Angeles International Airport last year.
Charles "Smoke" Hicks had his plea hearing today, according to City News Service. The 24-year-old Culver City resident admitted in court documents that he and co-defendant Andrew "Drew" Welter, 25, were part of an operation spearheaded by Millage Peaks IV, the 24-year-old son of a retired Los Angeles Fire Department chief. The scheme was to pay TSA agents to send through suitcases carrying marijuana from LAX to Boston.
The Department of Justice explains that court documents note the conspiracy between the drug couriers and the TSA employees began November 2010. Peaks offered two agents, both now no longer with the TSA, bribes for each bag that made it through airport security. Those agents, Dianna Perez, 28, of Inglewood and Randy Littlefield, 29, of Paramount, are also expected to plead guilty on conspiracy charges.
Perez used her position to circumvent security at LAX on an estimated nine occasions, says the DOJ. Court documents indicate:
"[Perez] did this a number of ways. First, she would instruct the drug couriers how to pack the marijuana so it would not trigger alarms on TSA’s explosive detection system. Coconspirator Perez would also personally screen the bags using TSA’s explosive detection system. Finally, if a bag did alarm, coconspirator Perez would manually screen the bag, and then clear it."
Peaks, Littlefield, and Perez are due in federal court Wednesday. A plea hearing date for Welter has not yet been set.