Ex-TSA workers indicted in airport drug-smuggling

Two former Transportation Security Administration officers were indicted Tuesday on charges they conspired to smuggle cocaine and heroin through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

If convicted, Richard C. Cook II, 27, of Henry County and Timothy G. Gregory, 25, of DeKalb County face up to life in prison and fines of up to $10 million, federal prosecutors said.

Starting in January, Cook allegedly began smuggling what he thought was cocaine and heroin through the Atlanta airport for federal agents posing as drug smugglers. The "drugs" he delivered to undercover agents, however, were fake. He moved the packages past security checkpoints while in uniform and was paid thousands of dollars for his involvement, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Cook quit the TSA in February but allegedly recruited Gregory, another TSA officer, to help keep the drug-smuggling operation going. Cook allegedly introduced Gregory to undercover officers posing as drug traffickers and received a referral fee of $1,000.

In February and May, prosecutors said, undercover agents provided Gregory with fake cocaine to transport to other undercover agents at Hartsfield-Jackson, and he allegedly received cash payments in return.

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"The crimes with which Cook and Gregory are charged created a breach in the security of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and betrayed the trust of millions of passengers who travel through this airport each year," U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in a statement.

Cook and Gregory were each charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, and multiple counts of substantive drug trafficking.

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