Aviation News

October 22, 2012

American Airlines Baggage Handlers Took Apart Planes to Hide Drugs

One American 757 lands at St. Maarten while another taxis for departure. (Photo by Mario J. Craig)

A former American Airlines baggage handler has been sentenced to three life sentences plus an extra 35 years for running a drug smuggling ring out of New York’s JFK International Airport and Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados.

Victor Bourne led an operation in which he and 19 other convicted employees would hide bricks of cocaine inside the luggage of passengers as well as cargo containers and within the panels of the aircraft themselves.

American Airlines Flight 1384, the daily service from Barbados to JFK, was characterized as the “Cocaine Express” in the 2011 trial that led to Bourne’s conviction.

In one instance, Bourne’s crew actually dismantled and reattached parts of a plane’s wing before and after carrying a full flight of passengers nearly 2,100 miles. Judge Nicholas Garaufis, formerly chief counsel at the FAA, mentioned the danger of such activity and said he hoped Bourne’s stiff sentence would discourage it from happening again.



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  • The executors of the war on drugs should get 3 life sentences each – I’ll leave out the added 35 years because it’s a waste of paperwork. Idiots.

    • Satariel

      So you don’t mind people stuffing your planes wings with bricks of cocaine that could interfere with the hydraulic mechanisms necessary for controlling the aircraft? You sound smart, “blaze”. Why don’t you go “blaze” some more pot up and leave the important decisions to the sober people.

      • Matt

        If there was no “war” on drugs, then people wouldnt need to take such drastic measures to make sure their product arrives. Read up on prohibition a little bit and maybe you will sound a little smarter.

        • jeffmd

          The 3 life time sentence was not for smuggling drugs, it was for dismantling the plane and putting hundreds of passengers and anyone on the ground at risk should the plane crash. You could replace drugs with “ivory tusk” or “counterfeit money” and the result would be the same, they charged them for endangering the life of others, not for the product they smuggled.

  • Johnny Law

    Really? 3 life sentences? Taking a plane apart to hide drugs and put thousands at risk on those flights. Now he gets to live like a king on the cartels dime inside. NY State cost of incarceration: 60,076 a year out of taxpayer pockets.