American Airlines Mechanic Tried to Smuggle $320,000 Worth of Cocaine in an Electrical Compartment

Photo:  Joe Raedle (Getty Images)
Photo: Joe Raedle (Getty Images)

In the opening minutes of the 2023 cinematic masterpiece Cocaine Bear, we see a deeply eighties smuggler tossing coke out of a small plane that’s about to crash. But what if you’re not some high-rolling cocaine entrepreneur, able to afford both a Cessna and a Giorgio Moroder cosplay? Well, you might just have to smuggle coke through your day job: Fixing American Airlines jets.

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At least, that appears to be the plan that one mechanic came up with, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. The mechanic, who worked at JFK airport fixing American Airlines planes, was convicted today on a slew of charges relating to the import and possession of cocaine.


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According to the attorney’s office, the mechanic used an electronics compartment underneath the cockpit of an American Airlines 737-800 to transfer cocaine from Jamaica to New York. Authorities found ten bricks of coke in the plane, weighing in at over 25 pounds. Its value was estimated at between $285,000 and $320,000, had the product made its way out into the world.

It seems that the good ol’ days for mom-and-pop smugglers are over, with Border Patrol cracking down on working-class, blue-collar traffickers. Humble folks just can’t get away with using their employers’ planes to move product any more. It’s a rich man’s game, now—the kinds of guys who can afford their own Cessnas to move cocaine, and their own Giorgio Moroder glasses to wear while doing it.

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