Flight Attendants Charged With Smuggling Drug Money To Dominican Republic

In a significant development, federal authorities have arrested four flight attendants in New York City on charges of smuggling millions of dollars in drug money to the Dominican Republic, as announced on Wednesday.

The accused individuals, identified as Charlie Hernandez, 42, Sarah Valerio Pujols, 24, Emmanuel Torres, 34, and Jarol Fabio, 35, residents of New York City, are alleged to have exploited their access to the “Known Crewmember (KCM)” lane, a special security lane allowing crew members to bypass regular security checks, including X-ray screenings. This purportedly enabled them to transport large sums of cash without detection, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams underscored the gravity of the accusations in a statement. “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,” he wrote, noting that they had done so by exploiting “their privileges as airline employees.”

The flight attendants are facing charges related to the illicit transfer of approximately $8 million to the Dominican Republic. The charges stem from a December 2019 incident where an informant allegedly provided Hernandez with $121,215, identified as proceeds from drug trafficking. Hernandez is accused of then distributing a portion of this sum to Pujols for smuggling purposes. The complaint also alleges involvement from Torres and Fabio, with Torres purportedly smuggling at least $1.5 million between 2015 and 2022, and Fabio accused of similar actions from 2015 to 2023.

While Pujols has been released from custody, her attorney declined further comment. At the time of reporting, legal representation for Hernandez and Torres was not disclosed in court documents, according to NBC News. Delta Airlines has confirmed that two of the charged individuals are its employees and has pledged full cooperation with the investigation.

“Delta has cooperated fully with law enforcement in this investigation and will continue to do so,” stated Delta Airlines in response to the arrests.

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