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Former Oakland airport baggage handler sentenced over marijuana smuggling

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A former baggage handler at Oakland International Airport was sentenced in federal court Wednesday to 2 1/2 years in prison for his part in a plot to smuggle marijuana grown in Northern California to at least 10 other states.

Keith Mayfield, 38, of Oakland, a former Southwest Airlines baggage handler, is the 11th person to plead guilty and be sentenced in the scheme, which operated at the airport between 2012 and 2015. The 10 others who pleaded guilty included two other baggage handlers, five couriers who transported the marijuana on planes and three people who packaged and sold it.

Mayfield was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland. He pleaded guilty last year to three counts of conspiring to distribute marijuana, conspiring to launder money and violating airport security.

Mayfield admitted in his plea that on at least 40 occasions between 2013 and 2015, he smuggled luggage containing at least 551 pounds of marijuana to passengers who had already cleared the security screening. He also admitted smuggling another 220 pounds of marijuana via Southwest Cargo to various cities for distribution.

Mayfield, described by prosecutors in a sentencing brief as a manager and supervisor in the scheme, received the longest prison term meted out thus far. The 10 co-defendants were given sentences ranging from three months to 2 years, 3 months in prison.

A 12th defendant, Francisco Carrasco, 34, of Hayward, who is accused of being a courier, is scheduled to go on trial in Hamilton’s court in July.

Prosecutors dismissed charges against one other defendant, Laticia Morris, 45, of Little Rock, Ark., after she completed a pretrial diversion program. She was accused of aiding in the marijuana conspiracy by depositing sales proceeds in a Little Rock bank.

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