Flight attendants charged with smuggling drug money to DR


Source: CMC- Flight attendants Charlie Hernandez, Sarah Valerio Pujols, Emmanuel Torres, and Jarol Fabio have been charged with various offenses related to smuggling narcotics trafficking proceeds from the United States to the Dominican Republic on commercial flights.

The charges were announced earlier this week by Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Ivan J. Arvelo, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the United States Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Pujols and Fabio were presented on Tuesday in Manhattan federal court before US Magistrate Judge Gary Stein, and Hernandez and Torres were presented later on Wednesday before Judge Stein.

“As alleged, these flight attendants smuggled millions of dollars of drug money and law enforcement funds that they thought was drug money from the United States to the Dominican Republic over many years by abusing their privileges as airline employees,” said Williams, stating that the “charges should serve as a reminder to those who break the law by helping drug traffickers move their money that crime doesn’t pay,” Williams said.

HSI Special Agent in Charge Ivan J. Arvelo said: “As alleged, the defendants knowingly smuggled large amounts of illicit money linked to the sale of narcotics, to include fentanyl, and took advantage of airport security checkpoints by using their trusted positions as flight attendants. 

“This investigation has exposed critical vulnerabilities in the airline security industry and has illuminated methods that narcotics traffickers are utilizing,” he said, adding that “the announcement should serve as a warning to all airline personnel: HSI New York will not tolerate employees’ attempts to abuse their power for the sake of transporting illicit goods.

According to the allegations contained in the Complaints, during the relevant period charged in the Complaints, all of the defendants were employed as flight attendants with different international airlines that operated routes between New York City and the Dominican Republic.

All of the defendants had “Known Crewmember” (KCM) status with the US Transportation Security Administration, which allowed them to pass through a special security lane at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and other airports, with less scrutiny than normal passengers, the Complaints state.

In total, they say that the defendants smuggled approximately US$8 million in bulk cash from the United States to the Dominican Republic.

Before his or her arrest in about October 2021, a cooperating witness (CW-1) operated a significant money laundering organization (MLO) in New York City, specializing in the movement of cash proceeds from narcotics sales from New York City to the Dominican Republic, the Complaints say. 

They say one method that CW-1 used in furtherance of his or her MLO was corrupting flight attendants, like the defendants, who worked routes between New York City and the Dominican Republic. 

In exchange for a fee – which generally amounted to a small percentage of the amount of money that they would be smuggling – the defendants accepted bulk cash from CW-1 in New York City, got it past airport security via the KCM lane, and passed it off to other members of CW-1’s MLO in the Dominican Republic, including another cooperating witness (CW-2), the Complaints say. 

They say after CW-1 and CW-2 began cooperating with law enforcement, HSI orchestrated a number of sting operations in which CW-1 provided law enforcement funds represented to be narcotics proceeds to the defendants, who then smuggled it down to the Dominican Republic and handed it off to CW-2.

Williams said Charlie Hernandez, 42, of West New York, New Jersey, Sarah Valerio Pujols, 42, of the Bronx, New York, Emmanuel Torres, 34, of Brooklyn, New York, and Jarol Fabio, 35, of New York, New York, are each charged with one count of operation of an unlicensed money transmission business, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and one count of entering an airport or aircraft area in violation of security requirements, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. 

The US Attorney said Pujols and Hernandez are additionally charged with one count of conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmission business, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and Pujols is further charged with one count of bulk cash smuggling, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

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    • Blame the ppl which is the tax payers that have a passport !! Remember that we is the government !!
      We should have KNOWN BETTER before voting certain INDIVIDUALS

  1. These person’s names revealed but the doctor still remains anonymous.
    Well well if it was a so-called common man in the streets

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