Three Defendants Charged with Attempted Drug Smuggling Through Salt Lake City Airport

FBI

SALT LAKE CITY—A federal indictment unsealed Friday afternoon in Salt Lake City charges three individuals with conspiracy and attempt to possess methamphetamine with intent to distribute. The charges also allege that defendants in the case used employee access doors at the airports as a part of their attempt to distribute the methamphetamine.

Charged in the 10-count indictment are Angel F. Segura, age 42, of South Jordan; Jesus A. Aleman, age 20, of Salt Lake City; and Oswaldo Rosas, age 29, of Salt Lake City. An arraignment and detention hearing was held Friday afternoon for Segura. Segura will be detained pending trial. An arraignment for Aleman and Rosas is scheduled for Monday morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Nuffer. Aleman and Rosas were arrested on a complaint filed earlier but have been released.

The charges follow a joint investigation by the FBI, the Utah County Major Crimes Task Force, the Transportation Security Administration, and the Salt Lake City Airport Police. Authorities at the Salt Lake City Airport also were involved in coordinating issues related to the case.

The first count of the indictment, a conspiracy count, alleges that from about Oct. 22, 2010, and continuing until June 21, 2011, Segura, Aleman and Rosas conspired to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine. In addition to bypassing security checkpoints at the Salt Lake City Airport by taking packages through an employee access door, the conspiracy includes allegations that Segura bypassed security checkpoints with what he believed to be methamphetamine at an airport in California. Segura is a former airport contract employee.

The indictment includes five counts of attempted possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute—which includes four involving the Salt Lake City Airport and one involving a California airport.

The indictment also includes four counts of entering an airport security area with intent to commit a felony, which in this case was an attempt to possess drugs with intent to distribute. These counts all relate to the Salt Lake City Airport.

“TSA worked very closely with law enforcement on this case, and there was never any threat to the airport or aircraft,” said Salt Lake City International Federal Security Director Vera Adams. “All airport employees undergo background checks and are continuously vetted against terrorist watch lists as one of many layers of aviation security.”

According to the complaint filed in the case, on June 9, 2011, Segura and Aleman arranged to pick up 3 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine at a hotel near the Los Angeles Airport on June 9, 2011. Segura took possession of what he believed was crystal methamphetamine and received $4,500 as a payment to transport the purported drugs.

Segura and Aleman transported the purported drugs back to Utah in a rented car. Once they arrived back in Salt Lake City, Segura contacted Rosas, a contract employee at the Salt Lake City Airport by telephone asking if he “was willing to do what they had talked about.” Rosas agreed to meet Segura the following day to assist Segura by taking a package through an employee access door at the Salt Lake City Airport before returning it to Segura on the secure side of the airport.

Segura and Rosas met in the short term parking lot of the airport the following day. Segura gave Rosas a package which he placed in his grey and red colored backpack. Rosas then took the backpack through a secure employee door. Segura, according to the complaint, met Rosas inside the terminal in the Delta Sky Lounge carrying a black duffle bag. Segura then exited the lounge with his black duffle bag and boarded a flight to Atlanta. When Segura arrived in Atlanta, he delivered the 3 kilograms of purported crystal methamphetamine to an individual at a motel near the Atlanta airport.

These alleged transactions are charged as counts seven and eight in the indictment.

“While no passengers or aircraft were threatened by the defendants in this case, it illustrates a potential risk. The defendants, as the charges allege, were able to carry a package with unknown contents through an employee access door at the Salt Lake City Airport and onto a commercial airliner. They believed the package contained crystal methamphetamine. However, they were unaware of the actual contents,” U.S. Attorney Carlie Christensen said.

Greg Bretzing, Acting FBI Special Agent in Charge, said, “The security at our nation’s airports is a priority for the FBI. Through strong law enforcement partnerships the FBI can swiftly address the type of criminal activity uncovered during this investigation. By closely collaborating with the Transportation Security Administration, the Salt Lake City Airport Police, the Utah County Major Crimes Task Force, and our other law enforcement partners, the FBI was able to stop the attempted transportation of illegal drugs and arrest the individuals allegedly involved in this conspiracy.”

The six drug-related counts in the indictment carry potential maximum penalties of life in prison with a 10-year mandatory minimum per count. The four counts alleging entering an airport area in violation of security requirements have potential maximum penalties of up to 10 years in prison.

Indictments are not findings of guilt. Individuals charged in indictments are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court.

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