NEW YORK—A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer tried to help two drug couriers sneak about 100 pounds of cocaine past screeners at Kennedy Airport, federal authorities said in court papers.
A criminal complaint, newly unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn, charges Fernando Marte with drug-smuggling conspiracy. Marte was in custody on Tuesday following his arrest last week.
Marte was on duty and in uniform when the couriers — a man and a woman traveling on a JetBlue flight from the Dominican Republic — arrived at JFK with two carry-on suitcases, according to court papers.
Security video shows Marte greeting the pair, escorting them past a primary inspection point and into the baggage claim area to get a cart for their bags, the papers say. Once they reached a secondary inspection point, Marte spoke to other customs officers there, investigators said.
After the conversation, the woman “was not stopped, searched or otherwise interviewed” before going outside with the bags, the papers say. But before her companion could leave, other customs officers stopped him and the woman. Both were arrested after the officers discovered bricks of cocaine wrapped in duct tape in the luggage.
The complaint says an informant told investigators Marte had also helped sneak another drug mule through airport inspection points last year. The officer has worked for U.S. Customs and Border Protection for about five years.
Robert Perez, director of the agency’s New York operations, said in a statement: “We do not tolerate corruption or abuse within our ranks, and will aggressively investigate allegations of criminal or administrative misconduct by any of our personal, on or off duty.”
There was no immediate response to a request for comment from Marte’s lawyer.