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Police Sever Narcotics Ring Worth $4 Million Running Out Of Airport

REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Police arrested 26 people involved in a narcotics ring smuggling millions in cocaine into the U.S. through the main international airport in Puerto Rico Tuesday.

Authorities say the drug ring operated out of Luis Munoz Marin international airport, using a variety of methods including garbage chutes to get the drugs into the U.S. Some of the 26 people arrested Tuesday include airline employees, airport employees and airport restaurant workers. San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, is allegedly home to the largest drug smuggling networks in the Caribbean, reports New York Daily News.

Federal officials said the drug ring is worth roughly $4 million and trafficked narcotics into New York City, Philadelphia, Orlando and Miami aboard airlines belonging to JetBlue, American and Southwest airlines.

“Today we have brought their operations to a grinding halt,” U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez said Tuesday, according to New York Daily News.

The operation employed a range of smuggling techniques to bypass airport security. Drug mules would pick up packages in airport bathrooms after completing their screening. In some cases, airline employees would mark luggage containing drug shipments as already checked by TSA agents.

Restaurant workers in the airport also participated in the operation, using garbage chutes to smuggle narcotics. The workers allegedly retrieved the drugs from the garbage, brought them back to the restaurant and put cocaine shipments with up to 9 pounds of the drug in coffee bags for mules to take aboard flights into the U.S.

A spokesman for American Airlines said they are taking the situation seriously and cooperating with authorities.

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