A TSA agent arrested, accused of being involved in a massive oxycodone trafficking operation between Connecticut, New York and Florida, pleaded guilty on Thursday in court in New Haven.
Twenty people were arrested, including three Transportation Security Administration officers based at airports in Florida and New York, a Westchester County police officer and a Florida State Trooper, officials from the U.S. Department of Justice.said.
Brigitte Jones, 48, a TSA officer at Westchester County Airport, pleaded guilty on Thursday in court in New Haven. She is the third TSA agent to plead guilty to taking cash to help move the Oxycodone through airport security without being detected.
“This defendant knew that an individual was transporting illegal narcotics and narcotics trafficking proceeds through Westchester Country Airport,” U.S. Attorney Fein said in a statement. “Instead of stopping him, she violated her oath of office, compromised important airport security procedures, and assisted a drug trafficking enterprise.”
Fein, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and Stamford Police Chief Robert Nivakoff previously held a news conference and said nine of the people are from Connecticut and the leaders of the group were based in Waterbury.
The investigation began when officials received a tip that someone was traveling to Stamford from Florida to sell thousands of oxycodone pills.
In April, police arrested the person, referred to only as “the individual” and he admitted to running pills to Connecticut.
Leaders of the group in Waterbury would pay $10.50 or $13 dollars per pill and then resell them in Connecticut for $23 and $30, officials said.
The group is accused of being behind the transport of tens of thousands of oxycodone pills as well as transporting cash proceeds from the sale of the drugs back to Florida.
The "individual" said he bought the pills from suppliers in Florida. Sometimes he used automobiles to transport the drugs to Connecticut and then sell them to narcotics traffickers here. But he also flew commercial flights into Westchester County Airport in New York several times a week, carrying up to 8,000 pills at a time, officials said. A TSA officer and a county police officer who were involved would take regular payments in exchange for regular service, Fein said.
On May 19, 2011, the Florida narcotics trafficker, who at this time was cooperating with law enforcement, paid Jones $200 at a bar in White Plains, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
On June 2, 2011, Jones and the Florida trafficker met at a location in Greenwich, where they discussed his oxycodone trafficking activity and the trafficker paid Jones $500.
On June 27, 2011, Jones again met with the Florida trafficker and received another $500 to help him pass through airport security screening the following day with what he claimed were an excess amount of oxycodone pills that he did not distribute in Connecticut, officials said.
A recorded conversation at that time captured Jones stating: “Just tell me what time you’re coming in. Tell me what flight you’re going to be on, what time you’re going to be at the airport. When you get to the airport and you’re there and you’re checking in at the counter, you let me know so when you’re coming through security, I’ll take care of the rest.”
On June 28, 2011, Jones allowed the trafficker to pass through Westchester County Airport security while he carried 1,500 pills that she believed to be oxycodone, officials said, but the pills were placebos.
On Thursday, Jones pleaded guilty to one count of extortion under color of right, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, and one count of receipt of a bribe by a public official, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 15 years.
She is scheduled to be sentenced on July 25.