ATLANTA -- A United States District Judge sentenced three former Delta Air Lines employees on Wednesday for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine and heroin.
According to Bob Page, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates, 36-year-old Luis Marroquin of Atlanta, 42-year-old Carlos Springer of Hampton, and 28-year-old Kelvin Rondon of Miami, Fla. worked together to get illegal narcotics into the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport from Mexico City.
Delta Air Lines flight 364 arrived in Atlanta in January 13, 2012 from Mexico City, when a Delta agent found an unclaimed piece of luggage at baggage claim. The bag was at a carousel with a tag for that flight attached to it.
The bag was inspected by Customs and Border Protection agents. Inside, they found several packages of illegal drugs.
Homeland Security interviewed Springer later that day. He was the performance leader for the shift of ramp workers who unloaded the baggage from that flight.
Investigators searched Springer's cell phone, and found coded, incriminating text messages sent between Springer and Marroquin around the time that flight 364 landed. Video captured the third suspect, Rondon during the landing and unloading of the flight, but he was off-duty at the time and had no authorization to work that flight.
During further investigation, Marroquin was found to have recruited Rondon into the drug scheme. Rondon was paid to make sure the unclaimed bag of drugs was on flight 364.
According to investigators, Marroquin's cell phone had a photo of the bag the day before flight 364 arrived that was shown to Rondon.
Rondon told investigators when he arrived on the tarmac, he helped unload the cargo and could not find the bag when he tried.
"The security of critical infrastructure like Hartsfield-Jackson Airport is a key national security concern," Brock Nicholson, Special Agent in Charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations in Atlanta said. "HSI special agents and our partners like U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Delta security team are committed to identifying those who seek to exploit the system and ensuring they are held accountable for their actions."
Marroquin was found on May 1, 2012 after the return of the indictment. He fled from Atlanta and was located at a Coral Springs, Fla. home.
"We serve the citizens of our district by promoting healthy and safe communities and we will prosecute anyone who uses our airports to import deadly drugs," United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said. "People have a reasonable expectation when boarding an airplane that airline personnel will be professionals who value their safety," she said, "and will not expose them to illegal activity."
Marroquin was sentenced to 15 years, 8 months in prison to be followed by 5 years of supervised release.
Springer was sentenced to 11 years, 3 months in prison to be followed by 5 years of supervised release.
Rondon was sentenced to 5 years, 3 months in prison to be followed by 5 years of supervised release.
Marroquin, Springer, and Rondon were convicted of the above charges upon their pleas of guilty last year.