A luggage handler at John F. Kennedy International Airport is accused of heading up a conspiracy that ran drugs hidden in food and candy and also looted valuables from passengers' bags, federal and local officials said.
Jorge Guerrero, a driver for a private company that delivers lost luggage, helped get parcels from Ecuador through the airport, according to authorities. Those parcels contained drugs concealed in empanadas, chocolate bars, and soaked into scuba diving diplomas, authorities said.
He is also accused of using his position with the lost-luggage company to steal designer bags, clothing, jewelry, electronics, and other valuables from baggage belonging to airline passengers, authorities said.
"Whether using access to international cargo to profit from Ecuador's bargain wholesale prices for narcotics, or pilfering designer underwear from personal luggage, the Guerrero organization rarely overlooked an opportunity to earn a dishonest dollar," said Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan. "Homeland Security continues to vigilantly protect ports of entry, and work closely with us on local issues such as narcotics importation and organized larceny rings."
After a six-month wiretap investigation by the New York City's Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor and Homeland Security's JFK Narcotics Smuggling Unit, agents on Tuesday morning arrested Guerrero, his wife, and several other people suspected of being involved in the drug-smuggling ring.
Inside the Guerreros' home in Queens, agents found more than 50 designer handbags from Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Burberry, Coach and Prada, 15 iPads, iPods and laptop computers; 20 cameras; 50 watches; 30 pairs of sunglasses; bottles of top-shelf liquor; perfume; new clothing; and suitcases with tags bearing other people's names, according to authorities.
In the homes of Guerrero's accused accomplices, agents found heroin, cocaine, Western Union wire transfer receipts to an Ecuadorian narcotics supplier, cell phones, a small quantity of marijuana, a round of ammunition, a scale, a strainer, bags, and drug-cutting agents, authorities said.