An American Airlines mechanic pleaded not guilty to several charges related to his alleged role in a cocaine smuggling operation through John F. Kennedy International Airport in February, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York said Monday.
Paul Belloisi was arraigned Monday, July 6, on charges of conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute, conspiracy to import cocaine and importation of cocaine. According to the U.S. Attorney, Belloisi, 52, acted as the “inside man” in a scheme to smuggle over 25 pounds of cocaine through the Queens airport.
“As alleged, this airline mechanic abused his position as a trusted employee and his access to sensitive areas of JFK Airport to participate in the clandestine importation of cocaine,” United States Attorney Richard Donoghue said. “These charges will serve as a warning that federal law enforcement authorities remain vigilant in protecting the security of our borders and fighting the scourge of international narcotics trafficking. Those who attempt to poison our communities by smuggling drugs through our ports of entry will be held accountable.”
On Feb. 4, American Airlines flight 1349 landed at JFK Terminal 8 from Montego Bay, Jamaica. Members of the JKF Anti-Terrorism Contraband Enforcement Team conducted a routine search of the plane and found around 25.56 pounds of cocaine bricks hidden behind insulation inside an external mechanical compartment underneath the plane, according to the criminal complaint.
After finding the drugs, law enforcement officers replaced the drugs with fake cocaine and sprayed the fake packages with a substance that is only visible in a certain light, according to the authorities. Additionally, the contraband team installed transponders on the fake drugs that would send a signal if the area was disturbed. The officers set up surveillance of the aircraft and several hours later, observed Belloisi entering the area where the cocaine was hidden, the complaint alleges.
After exiting the compartment, Belloisi was found to have the substance the officers sprayed on the fake drugs on his gloves, and empty duffle bag which he brought to the scene and cut out compartments inside his jacket, which the criminal complaint alleges was for the concealment of the drugs.
The mechanic, who lives in Hicksville, New York, was arrested on Feb. 5 and released on a $300,000 bond. He was indicted by a grand jury in Central Islip on June 18.
If convicted, Belloisi faces a life in prison.