Former American Airlines employee charged with smuggling drugs aboard aircrafts

(Brooklyn, NY) A superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Brooklyn was unsealed charging former American Airlines baggage handler Victor Bourne and former American Airlines dispatching crew chief Miguel Bozza with drug trafficking and related charges.

The superseding indictment also charges Maria Alleyne, the mother of Victor Bourne, with structuring the purchase of money orders to avoid financial reporting requirements. The defendants will be arraigned before United States District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis at the U.S. Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, in Brooklyn. The charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and James T. Hayes, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge, ICE Office of Homeland Security Investigations in New York. Assistance for the investigation was provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Internal Revenue Service.

According to the indictment and other court filings, between 2000 and 2009, Victor Bourne, a Barbadian national, was the leader of a drug trafficking organization (the “Bourne Organization”) that relied on corrupt employees of commercial airlines, including American Airlines, at domestic and international ports of entry to smuggle drugs into the United States and throughout the Caribbean. As part of its criminal activity, the Bourne Organization allegedly arranged for cocaine to be stowed aboard American Airlines flights leaving the Caribbean for John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The organization then allgedly paid dispatching crew chiefs at American Airlines, including Miguel Bozza, to assign crews of baggage handlers, who were also paid by the Bourne Organization, to retrieve the cocaine upon arrival. As part of the government’s investigation, Customs and Border Patrol officers seized multiple shipments of cocaine from American Airlines passenger flights. According to a court filing by the government, the Bourne Organization was responsible for the importation into the United States of over 150 kilograms of cocaine. The indictment further alleges that the organization was responsible for the shipment of over 5,000 kilograms of marijuana aboard cargo vessels, in part through a Brooklyn footwear business owned by Maria Alleyne, to businesses in Barbados, and that Bourne and Alleyne structured the purchase United States Postal money orders to avoid federal reporting requirements and thereby enable the organization to transfer clandestinely its drug proceeds.

“These charges are another example our continuing pursuit of international drug traffickers through a global enforcement strategy,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “We will continue to investigate and prosecute workers at our ports of entry who threaten the integrity of our borders.”

“The use of commercial aircraft to smuggle narcotics creates a serious threat to both national security and public safety,” said ICE Special Agent-in-Charge Hayes. “As the investigative arm of the U.S. Dept Homeland Security, HSI is committed to bringing to justice individuals directly involved with these criminal enterprises and those who are complicit in furthering their schemes.”

Bourne is charged with conducting a Continuing Criminal Enterprise; Bourne and Bozza are charged with importing and distributing narcotics, as well as conspiring to do so, and wire fraud conspiracy; and Bourne and Alleyne are charged with conspiring to avoid financial reporting requirements through structured financial transactions. If convicted of all charges, Bourne and Bozza face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, and Alleyne faces a maximum of five years’ imprisonment. The government is also seeking forfeiture of the organization’s criminally derived proceeds.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Toni M. Mele, Patricia E. Notopoulos, Alexander A. Solomon, and Tanya Y. Hill.

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