Drugs: A $1.5 Billion Inside Job

A $1.5 Billion Inside Job

The operation was a consummate inside job. Some baggage handlers at New York City's John F. Kennedy Airport plucked suitcases loaded with cocaine off incoming planes from Rio de Janeiro and switched them onto conveyor belts headed for domestic flights before the luggage ever got to Customs inspectors. Others simply picked up the bags and carried them out through emergency exits. Accomplices erased from airline computer systems all records of the flights made by the couriers who carried the drugs from Brazil. Since 1981, the ring may have smuggled $1.5 billion worth of cocaine through J.F.K. Last Tuesday narcotics agents arrested...