3 San Francisco airport screeners allegedly allowed cocaine to pass through security

Three security screeners at San Francisco International Airport were arrested Friday on charges of defrauding the government and smuggling cocaine.

A federal indictment charging the three individuals was unsealed on Thursday. All three worked for Covenant Aviation Security, a private security that contracts with the Transportation Security Administration to provide addition security at the San Francisco airport, according to the Justice Department.

Joseph Scott, 35, of Vallejo, was a Supervisory Transportation Security Officer for the company. Michael Castaneda, 32, of Daly City, was a Lead Transportation Security Officer, while Jessica Scott, 27, of San Pueblo, is a current Supervisory Transportation Security Officer for the company.

All three conspired to use their positions with the security company to allow passengers to smuggle real and simulated cocaine through airport security checkpoints, the indictment alleges. The defendants allegedly allowed passengers carrying narcotics in their carry-ons to pass through security checkpoints with adequately screening the bags on five occasions between May 2013 and April 2014.

Undercover Drug Enforcement and TSA agents learned the security officers were taking a fee to allow the drugs to pass through the checkpoints. Every time and officer viewing the X-ray saw the bag, the let the passengers through anyway.

The suspects didn’t realize they were under investigation at the time.

Joseph Scott, Jessica Scott and Castaneda all face a count of conspiring to defraud the TSA by obstructing a lawful government function and conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports Joseph Scott and Jessica Scott were released on $50,000 bond and Castaneda will have a bail hearing on Monday.