LOS ANGELES - A former Transportation Security Administration officer was arrested Wednesday on a federal criminal complaint alleging he smuggled what he believed was methamphetamine through Los Angeles International Airport in exchange for $8,000.
Michael Williams, 39, of Hawthorne, is charged with one federal count of attempting to distribute methamphetamine, and is expected to make his initial appearance in Los Angeles federal court Wednesday afternoon, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
If convicted, Williams would face up to 20 years in federal prison, prosecutors noted.
According to an affidavit filed with the complaint, authorities in 2020 conducted undercover operations involving Williams, whom they suspected of helping smuggle narcotics past security checkpoints at LAX.
During the investigation, Williams allegedly met with a drug source to exchange methamphetamine in the days prior leading up to his shift at LAX, the document says.
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As a TSA employee with unscreened access to LAX, Williams agreed to deliver what he thought was methamphetamine in a backpack to the drug source's accomplice in the men's restroom on the secure side of the airport terminal, federal prosecutors allege.
After taking possession of what he believed was real narcotics, Williams allegedly transported an unscreened package containing the fake methamphetamine beyond the TSA screening area and delivered the package. The person who accepted the package, whom Williams did not know was a federal agent, on both occasions exchanged $4,000 in cash in the restroom stalls, prosecutors allege.
Williams was observed on LAX's security cameras exiting the restroom while wearing his TSA uniform en route to begin his shift screening passengers and luggage, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
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