Arrest at Sea-Tac Airport yields huge cocaine bust

By Terrapinzflyer · Oct 9, 2009 · ·
  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Arrest at Sea-Tac Airport yields huge cocaine bust

    SEATTLE -- Officials from the Port of Seattle say they have made the biggest drug bust ever at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

    Port of Seattle police in cooperation with the Transportation Security Administration arrested three people and seized 11 kilograms of cocaine last week.

    The three people checked bags before boarding a flight to Alaska on Sept. 30. TSA officers found five kilograms of cocaine in one bag during routine X-ray procedures. The bag owner was found at the departure gate and officials determined the other travel companions. Two more bags were searched and the other six kilograms were discovered.

    The trio was indicted on conspiracy to distribute cocaine charges by the U.S. Attorney's Office on Thursday.


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  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Sea-Tac Airport makes its largest drug bust: Cocaine in toy boxes

    Three men were indicted today on federal drug smuggling charges in what Seattle-Tacoma International Airport officials are calling their largest drug bust ever.

    Isaiah Manuel Campbell, Miguel Antonio Pineiro Jr. and Thomas Lamont Steed are facing felony charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine after they were caught preparing to depart for Anchorage with 11 kilograms of cocaine, according to court documents.

    According to an affidavit filed in federal court by Detective Matthew Bruch of the Port of Seattle Police Department, police on Sept. 29 found five kilograms of cocaine stuffed in a toy box wrapped with children's paper in Pineiro's checked baggage.

    The bricks of cocaine were tightly wrapped in cellophane and were masked in oil or grease and tripped off an alert during a routine X-ray, which indicated it contained explosives, the affidavit says.

    Police went to the gate to arrest Pineiro, who was already aboard the plane. At the gate, an airlines employee told officers Pineiro was with two others on the same flight: Steed and Campbell. All had bought one-way tickets to Anchorage with cash about an hour before the flight.

    According to Bruch, that is a common practice for smugglers wanting to avoid police detection.

    The men were taken to police headquarters. A search there of Steed's bag uncovered four more kilograms of cocaine also stashed in a box wrapped with children's wrapping paper, the affidavit says.

    A police dog also sniffed out two kilograms of cocaine from Campbell's bag after he refused to consent to a search, the affidavit says.

    According to the court papers, each kilogram of cocaine has a street value of about $22,000.

    Airport police say they men are facing a mandatory maximum penalty of 10 years to life in prison and up to a $4 million fine if convicted. The seizure of 11 kilos of cocaine was also one of the largest of its kind in the region, police said.

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