SFO screeners accused of helping meth smugglers
Two security screeners at San Francisco International Airport were arrested and arraigned Friday on charges of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and accepting a bribe from a third suspect, who is also in federal custody.
The alleged smuggling operation was coordinated, at least in part, through Facebook messages, which are quoted extensively in the criminal complaint filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
San Francisco resident Claudio Rene Sunux, 30, and South San Francisco resident Amanda Lopez, 27, were working as security screeners as contractors for the Transportation Security Administration, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The morning of September 17, FBI agents provided Anibal Giovanni Ramirez, a 28-year-old San Francisco resident, with two pieces of luggage containing packages filled with 20 pounds of methylsulfonylmethane, a common filler or cutting agent. One of the bags also contained 68.5 grams of pure meth, according to the criminal complaint.
Lopez allegedly overlooked the packages as they were smuggled through a security checkpoint at San Francisco International Airport in exchange for money. Sunux allegedly coordinated the operation, according to the U.S. Attorney.
Ramirez has also been arrested and arraigned. All three defendants have been charged with conspiracy to distribute meth, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years to life in prison and fines up to $10 million. Sunux and Lopez have been charged with agreeing to receive a bribe, and Ramirez has been charged with offering to bribe a public official.
Those offenses carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. All three defendants are currently in federal custody. Sunux and Lopez are scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James on Monday in San Francisco.
Ramirez will be in court on Wednesday. Other agencies involved in this investigation include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the TSA’s Office of Inspection and the Oakland Police Department and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.