Delta subsidiary employee allegedly smuggled cash through Hartsfield-Jackson
Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi
SEPTEMBER 3, 2015 ATLANTA Airport employees pass through the screening checkpoint. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport officials implemented a new security screening process for employees. More than 40, 000 employees work in the secured areas of the airport. KENT D. JOHNSON
An employee of a Delta Air Lines subsidiary and his wife allegedly smuggled hundreds of thousand of dollars in cash through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Bubacarr Drammeh, the employee of Delta Global services, was also charged with bribing airport workers to get the cash through security. He and his wife Matako Drammeh were allegedly transporting the money to California.
Delta said Bubacarr Drammeh was terminated last year. Delta Global Services does ground handling as a subsidiary of Delta.
Byung J. “BJay” Pak, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, said the alleged actions “put all passengers at risk.”
VIDEO: Previous coverage of airport smuggling
Pak's office alleges that Bubacarr Drammeh, 42, attempted to bring a bag with more than $140,000 in cash through an employee security checkpoint on Sept. 2, 2017. Hartsfield-Jackson in 2015 began operating a security checkpoint to screen employees, in response to a gun-running scheme uncovered in 2014. Delta has its own screening system of its employees. Airport workers were previously not required to go through security checkpoints.
The Drammehs "exploited Bubacarr Drammeh's status as an airline employee to evade airport security screenings," according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
A screener at the employee checkpoint “found stacks of money” in Drammeh’s bag, and Drammeh allegedly offered the screener $8,000 in cash to not report him to authorities, according to Pak’s office. But airport security refused and contacted law enforcement.
A federal grand jury indicted the Drammehs, who live in Riverdale, on July 24 and charged them with “conspiring to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business and entering an aircraft or airport area in violation of security requirements.”
Hartsfield-Jackson issued a statement saying: “The multi-layered approach to security at ATL addresses passengers and employees alike. We work constantly with our law enforcement and airline partners to maintain a safe, secure environment at the world’s busiest and most efficient airport. Additionally, we will continue to assist the federal authorities as needed in this investigation.”
The U.S. Attorney’s office alleges that the Drammehs from November 2016 to September 2, 2017 transported cash on flights to California, and that they took more than 50 trips.
"While halting bulk cash smuggling is an important Homeland Security Investigations priority, eliminating a potential vulnerability in airport security may serve a larger contribution to national security and protection of national infrastructure," said Homeland Security Investigations Atlanta special agent in charge Nick S. Annan in a written statement.
Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport including Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, one of the world's largest carriers, and Hartsfield-Jackson, the world's busiest airport. She has covered airlines for about 20 years, graduated from Harvard and has a master's degree from Northwestern.