By Daniel Silliman
Two airport security officers and an airline employee were indicted this week on charges they smuggled drugs through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Leslie Adgar, a 42-year-old Delta Airlines employee, and two Transportation Security Administration officers, 24-year-old Andre Mays and 44-year-old Jon Patton, allegedly accepted $25,500 to smuggle heroin and cocaine through security, and onto an airplane headed for New York City, not knowing their client was an informant and they were being followed by federal agents.
"Their greed led to their demise," said Rodney G. Benson, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Agency's Atlanta Office. "These defendants betrayed the trust of the American public by breaching the ever-important roll of front-line airport security."
In December 2007, a New York man, through the Kings County, N.Y., district attorney's office, agreed to work with the DEA and expose the smuggling operation which was moving drugs up the eastern seaboard. The informant -- called a "confidential source" in federal court records -- allegedly worked out a deal with Patton, agreeing to pay $5,000 for the first kilogram of cocaine and $3,000 for each additional kilo.
According to the United States Attorney's Office, Patton said that was his usual "transportation fee."
The informant took a carry-on bag of fake cocaine and $4,000 of marked bills, from the DEA, and handed it to Patton and Mays.
Federal agents followed the drugs and money as the two TSA officers took the bag into the bathroom, and pulled out the money, took the bag to the T concourse, and gave it Adgar.
Adgar flew to LaGuardia Airport, on the Delta flight, the DEA alleges, giving the bag to the informant, and accepting a second $4,000.
The next month, the DEA repeated the operation, sending the informant to his TSA contacts on Jan. 23, with fake heroin and $4,500.
Patton was wearing his TSA uniform when he accepted what he allegedly believed to be drugs. Federal officials say the second smuggling-operation was performed just like the first one, with Patton passing the carry-on bag to Adgar and Adgar flying it to LaGuardia.
On Feb. 15, the informant brought the bag to the Atlanta airport again, this time with three kilograms of fake cocaine, and cash.
Adgar was arrested at Hartsfield-Jackson while attempting to board a flight to LaGuardia. Patton and Mays were arrested at the same time.
Patton and Adgar were charged by a federal grand jury with conspiring to distribute narcotics, and attempting to distribute cocaine and heroin. Mays was charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, for the Dec. 19 smuggling set-up, though he was not implicated in the other two operations.
"This indictment," said David E. Nahmias, United States Attorney, "should serve as a cautionary tale for others who would betray the trust that the public places in the front-line workers at our nation's airports: Such illegal conduct will be discovered and the offenders swiftly brought to justice."
Delta and TSA fully cooperated with federal agents in the investigation, according to Nahmias.
All three airport employees face a maximum possible sentence of life in prison.