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An American Airlines mechanic at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Paul Belluisi, has been sentenced to up to 20 years in prison for his role in a drug smuggling scheme. Belluisi hid 11kg of cocaine in the plane’s electronics bay, believing it wouldn’t be detected, but the cocaine was discovered during a routine search by Customs and Border Protection officers. The officers were able to catch Belluisi in the act of retrieving the drugs. Belluisi was found guilty of conspiracy to possess cocaine and conspiracy to import and export cocaine.
American mechanic at JFK airport hid cocaine in planes and thus transported drugs across the USA
Paul Belluisi, an American Airlines mechanic at John F. Kennedy International Airport, worked in a drug smuggling scheme. He hid the cocaine in the plane’s electronics bay, according to the US Department of Justice.
On May 2, a federal jury in Brooklyn found Paul Belluisi guilty on all three counts: conspiracy to possess cocaine and conspiracy to import and export cocaine. Belloisi is sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.
“Bellweezy not only broke the law by conspiring to transport cocaine to the United States, but also used his secure position as an American Airlines mechanic at JFK International Airport to further his criminal activities,” said the HSI special agent in charge in New York. Ivan J. Arvelo. “Cocaine addiction is a serious problem across the country, in large part due to traffickers who put profit ahead of the safety of others. HSI is committed to working with law enforcement partners to identify, arrest, and prosecute individuals responsible for bringing illegal drugs into the United States.”
Live and red-handed
On February 4, 2020, American Airlines Flight 1349 arrived at JFK Terminal 8 from Montego Bay, Jamaica. The aircraft was selected for a routine search by CBP officers from the anti-smuggling team.
The officers found 10 blocks of cocaine weighing 11 kg hidden in the electronics compartment at the bottom of the cockpit. The officers secretly replaced the cocaine with fake blocks and sprayed it with a substance that glows when illuminated with a special light.
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CBP officers and HSI special agents placed the aircraft under surveillance from a distance, and shortly before it was due to take off for its next flight, they spotted Belloisi pull up and climb into the electronics bay. Belloisie’s gloves glowed under a special light, indicating that he was dealing with fake blocks. Belloisie also had an empty tool bag, and the lining of his jacket had cutouts large enough to put blocks in.
“It is proven that the defendant was caught red-handed trying to facilitate the smuggling of a large shipment of cocaine hidden in the electronics compartment of the aircraft,” United States Attorney Peace said. “This corrupt airline mechanic not only breached the trust and undermined the security of a vital border crossing in our area, but was also willing to compromise the safety of travelers and the public.”
The cocaine found on the plane was worth between $285,000 and $320,000.
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