American Airlines Mechanic Charged With Cocaine Importation From Jamaica

    (CMC) — A 52-year-old American Airlines mechanic has been released on US$300,000 bail after he was arraigned for allegedly importing more than 25 pounds of cocaine on a flight from Montego Bay, Jamaica in February.

    The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency said Paul Belloisi, an American Airlines mechanic at John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York, was arrested on February 5 following an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) working with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at JFK.

    Belloisi has been charged with conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute, conspiracy to import cocaine and importation of cocaine.

    ICE said Monday he was released on a US$300,000 bond after being indicted by a grand jury on June 18.

    “As alleged, Belloisi was the ‘inside man,’ moving more than 25 pounds of cocaine from Jamaica to New York,” said Peter C Fitzhugh, special agent in charge of HSI New York.

    “HSI and CBP’s joint efforts continue to stem these threats to our aviation industry by which perpetuate the international movement of contraband through our airports. HSI will continue to persistently investigate and dismantle these criminal enterprises working with our law enforcement and airline partners,” he added.

    CBP Director of Field Operations Troy Miller said that “this internal conspiracy case serves as a great example of collaborative law enforcement efforts to combat those that would compromise their access to restricted space and equipment, while aiding international narcotics trafficking conspirators.”

    United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard P Donoghue said “as alleged, this airline mechanic abused his position as a trusted employee and his access to sensitive areas of JFK Airport to participate in the clandestine importation of cocaine.

    “These charges will serve as a warning that federal law enforcement authorities remain vigilant in protecting the security of our borders and fighting the scourge of international narcotics trafficking.  Those who attempt to poison our communities by smuggling drugs through our ports of entry will be held accountable,” he added.

    According to court documents, shortly after American Airlines flight 1349 arrived at JFK Terminal 8 from Montego Bay, Jamaica, a routine search by CBP officers, discovered an estimated 11.594 kilograms (25.56 pounds) of cocaine bricks concealed behind an insulation blanket in an external mechanical compartment beneath the aircraft.

    The document said officials then began visual surveillance of the aircraft from a distance and “shortly before the aircraft was scheduled to depart, Belloisi was observed approaching the aircraft and entering the compartment where the cocaine had been hidden.

    “The officers confronted Belloisi after he exited the compartment and observed evidence that Belloisi had handled the area where the cocaine bricks were discovered.

    “Belloisi also had carried an empty tool bag to the aircraft and had cut outs in the lining of his jacket, which together were sufficiently large to hold the bricks of cocaine that had been in the compartment,” it added.

    If convicted, Belloisi faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, ICE said.