4 flight attendants arrested, accused of taking millions in drug money to Dominican Republic

Table of contents

4 flight attendants arrested, accused of taking millions in drug money to Dominican Republic

Four flight attendants abused “their privileges as airline employees” and smuggled “millions of dollars of drug money” out of New York City to the Dominican Republic, federal authorities said Wednesday.

The suspects had access to the “Known Crewmember (KCM)” lane at John F. Kennedy International Airport, giving them fast and X-ray-free passage through security, authorities said.

“In effect, given these loosened security procedures, KCM privileges allow flight attendants to bypass airport security with large quantities of cash without that cash being seized,” a complaint written by a Homeland Security Investigations special agent said.

Charlie Hernandez, 42; Sarah Valerio Pujols, 24; Emmanuel Torres, 34; and Jarol Fabio, 35, all face various charges connected to “unlicensed money transmission,” prosecutors said.

Hernandez lives in West New York, New Jersey, while the other three defendants reside in New York City, officials said.

They are accused of smuggling about $8 million in total in “bulk cash” to the Dominican Republic, prosecutors said.

“As alleged, these flight attendants smuggled millions of dollars of drug money and law enforcement funds that they thought was drug money from the United States to the Dominican Republic over many years by abusing their privileges as airline employees,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.

An informant gave Hernandez $121,215 — funds “derived from narcotics trafficking” — and he then gave Pujols $61,215 of that money for them to take to the Dominican Republic in December 2019, according to the complaint.

Torres is accused of smuggling at least $1.5 million in drug money to the Dominican Republic between 2015 and 2022, the complaint said. Fabio allegedly sneaked out $1.5 million between 2015 and 2023, federal authorities said.

Delta Airlines confirmed that two of the defendants work for the Atlanta-based carrier.

“Delta has cooperated fully with law enforcement in this investigation and will continue to do so,” the airline said in a statement.

The four were arrested Tuesday, a Homeland Security Investigations spokesperson said.

An attorney for Pujols said her client is no longer in custody but declined any further comment.

A lawyer for Fabio could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday. There were no attorneys immediately listed in court records for Hernandez and Torres.

Source Reference

Latest stories