Georgia (The Gaslamp Post) – A pair of former TSA agents were sentenced to prison last month for their roles in smuggling what they thought were drugs through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. While the two thought they were running heroin and cocaine for a drug cartel, they were in all reality dealing with undercover officers.
Former TSA agents Richard C. Cook II, 28, and Timothy G. Gregory, 26, received lengthy prison terms after authorities say they, “misused their positions as officers with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to smuggle what they believed to be illegal drugs through Atlanta’s airport security.”
James E. Ward, Special Agent in Charge, Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General (OIG), Atlanta Field Office stated, “Let today’s sentencing demonstrate to the public that federal and local law enforcement agencies stand committed to eradicate corruption, particularly among the few who choose to tarnish their badge and oath of office. DHS-OIG and its law enforcement partners will continue to hold such shameless individuals accountable.”
According to United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates:
“The defendants abused their positions as TSA officers to smuggle drugs through the world’s busiest airport. The citizens of this district deserve better than Mr. Cook and Mr. Gregory—they deserve officers who obey the laws that they are entrusted to enforce. These significant prison sentences should serve as stinging reminders that corruption will not be tolerated.”
An investigation was launched after authorities reportedly received word from several sources that Cook would be willing to compromise his position as a TSA agent to smuggle contraband into secure locations. On January 11, 2012, Cook was approached by two undercover officers posing as members of a drug cartel.
They offered him a partial payment of $3500 to smuggle 3 kilograms of what he thought was heroin. Cook was observed entering the airport in uniform and passing the fake heroin through his security checkpoint. According to FBI.gov, he then reportedly delivered it to another undercover officer who was also posing as a member of the drug cartel.
He accepted another $4000 for completing the delivery.
A few weeks later on January 26, 2012, he again performed a smuggling operation, accepting similar terms as he did in the first run. Cook reportedly resigned from the TSA in February of 2012, but recruited his replacement who was also a TSA agent.
After accepting a $1000 finder’s fee, Cook was out and Gregory was in. On February 24, 2012, undercover officers gave Gregory what he thought was 5 kilograms of cocaine and paid him $5000. As in the first case, Gregory took the fake drugs through a TSA security checkpoint and delivered them to an undercover officer already inside the terminal.
Gregory then again performed a second smuggling operation on May 4, 2012. This time he agreed to take what he thought was 10 kilograms of cocaine from Atlanta to Commerce, Georgia.
Richard C. Cook II was sentenced last week to 11 years in federal prison, 5 years supervision, and a $16,000 fine. Timothy G. Gregory was sentenced earlier last month to 6 years in prison, 5 years supervision, and a $5000 fine.
Mark F. Giuliano, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated, “As officers of TSA, these two defendants abandoned their positions of trust, and today, they will answer for their actions. The FBI remains committed in working with its various law enforcement partners in bringing forward for prosecutions all matters concerning public corruption.”
The FBI is urging parents to talk with their children and warn them about the dangers of drugs. Parents are urged to visit www.justthinktwice.com for more information.
(h/t: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)