SAN DIEGO - Four baggage handlers at Lindbergh Field have been indicted on charges of smuggling cocaine and methamphetamine aboard planes set for destinations across the country.
Federal officials said it is believed to be the first drug prosecution of employees at Lindbergh Field, the region's international airport.
The four, current or former employees of Delta Global Services, worked in tandem with seven drug couriers who were also indicted, officials said.
The baggage handlers would take backpacks of drugs from the couriers and then, using their security badges, place a backpack aboard a plane, which the courier would then pick up when the plane reached New York City, Nashville, Detroit, Baltimore, Hawaii and other locations, according to the federal indictment.
The hand-offs would occur in bathrooms in the airport terminal before the couriers boarded a plane, according to the indictment.
The indicted baggage handlers were Felix Samuel Garcia, 29, of Imperial Beach; Paulo Mendez Perez, 36, of Chula Vista; Brian Alberto Gonzalez, 30, of San Diego; and Saul Bojorquez Aviles, 26, of Chula Vista.
The alleged couriers indicted were Angel Ortega, 26, of San Bernardino; David Camacho, 27, of San Bernardino; Jesus Morales, 21, of San Bernardino; Candelario Perez, 24, of Fresno; Israel Acosta, 48, of San Bernardino; Henry Garcia-Arambula, 22, of San Bernardino; and Sergio Mejia-Gambo, 22, of San Bernardino.
"We aren't going to let dangerous drugs fly in unchecked bags in the overhead bins of commercial aircraft," U.S. Atty. Laura Duffy said.
All the defendants are in custody except for Ortega, officials said.
Each defendant is charged with conspiracy to possess controlled substances with intent to distribute, which carries a maximum 20 years in prison; and possession of cocaine and methamphetamine with intent to distribute, which carries a maximum 10 years in prison.
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