SAN DIEGO — A 22-year-old man accused of leading a group of people — including baggage handlers — who allegedly operated a scheme to smuggle cocaine and methamphetamine onto aircraft at San Diego International Airport was ordered Tuesday to remain jailed without bail.
Sergio Mejia Gambo was one of 11 people indicted by a grand jury on charges of conspiracy to possess controlled substances with intent to distribute and possession of cocaine and methamphetamine with intent to distribute. “There were several million dollars worth of drugs that have been seized,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Wheat, who told Magistrate Judge Ruben Brooks that Mejia was a source of drugs for the smuggling organization and was a risk to flee to Mexico if not detained.
Several other defendants made their initial appearances in federal court Tuesday.
The indictment alleges that Felix Samuel Garcia, Paulo Mendez Perez and Saul Bojorquez, all current or former employees of Delta Global Services — which provides ground services for several airlines — flashed badges numerous times and walked through checkpoints with drugs in backpacks. Brian Alberto Gonzalez, also a DGS employee, allegedly worked as a courier.
According to the indictment, the drug-toting baggage handlers connected with drug couriers during clandestine meetings in airport restrooms in the secured area of Terminal 2, where they would wait for adjoining stalls to become available and once inside, would hand off the cocaine and methamphetamine under the stalls’ divider.
“They used their security passes to smuggle drugs into the airport ,” explained, Wheat, adding, “and then delivered them to couriers who already passed through TSA security.”
After the bathroom rendezvous, the couriers would board flights and proceed to destinations such as New York City, Nashville, Detroit, Baltimore and Hawaii, where they were met by other members of the drug trafficking organization, according to the indictment. Upon arrival the drugs quickly more valuable,”a pound of meth arrives in Honolulu and its now worth 25 thousand dollars,” said Wheat, and he says it’s the same if you head to the East, “similar with cocaine, when it goes to the east to Nashville and New York, the value increases.”