October 23, 2019  Last Update: November 27, 2017, 8:52 pm

American Airlines Cocaine: Operation Heavy Cargo

DEA photo of Agents escorting control crew chief Manuel Santiago-Alvarado, as part of cocaine smuggling investigation Operation Heavy Cargo out of Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States. Passengers arriving in the US from Puerto Rico do not have to go through customs. Drug smugglers exploited this to arrange for the transport of cocaine into the United States, using a network of accomplices which included American Airline employees, ground support company employees, and passengers/couriers.

Details of the investigation that broke up this smuggling ring were unsealed, as reported by CNN:

Wilfredo Rodriguez Rosada is accused of recruiting a group of people, including American Airlines employees, who transported and loaded suitcases filled with cocaine to the cargo area and then ensured they reached airports in Miami, Orlando and Newark. A total of 12 current and former American Airlines employees were indicted.
- CNN

Twenty people were indicted and more than 9,000 kilograms of cocaine was smuggled aboard American Airlines commercial flights, according to the investigation.

Cocaine is a highly-addictive drug. Cocaine addiction is expensive and difficult to break. The demand for cocaine in the United States continues to support extensive, sometimes complex smuggling operations such as this one operating through airports in Puerto Rico, Miami, Orlando, and Newark, New Jersey.

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American Airlines employees helped smuggle 9,000 kg of cocaine into the US
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