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Former American Airlines employee found guilty of importing cocaine

NEW YORK — A former American Airlines employee was found guilty on Monday for importing more than 150 kilograms of cocaine into the United States. The guilty verdict stems from an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

According to court documents, between 2000 and 2009, Victor Bourne was the leader of a drug trafficking organization (the Bourne Organization). The organization relied on corrupt employees of commercial airlines, including American Airlines, at domestic and international ports of entry to smuggle drugs into the United States and throughout the Caribbean.

As part of its criminal activity, the Bourne Organization arranged for cocaine to be stowed aboard American Airlines flights leaving the Caribbean for John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The organization then paid dispatching crew chiefs at American Airlines to assign corrupt crews of baggage handlers to retrieve the cocaine upon arrival. As part of the government's investigation, multiple shipments of cocaine were seized from American Airlines passenger flights.

The Bourne Organization was responsible for the importation of more than 150 kilograms of cocaine into the U.S. In addition, the organization was responsible for the shipment of more than 5,000 kilograms of marijuana aboard cargo vessels. Bourne structured the purchase of U.S. Postal Service money orders to avoid federal reporting requirements, and thereby, enabled the organization to transfer its drug proceeds clandestinely.

An indictment unsealed on Oct. 14, 2010 charged Victor Bourne with drug trafficking and related charges. It also charged Maria Alleyne, Victor Bourne's mother, with structuring the purchase of money orders to avoid financial reporting requirements.

Maria Alleyne was acquitted of these charges.

Bourne was found guilty of importing and distributing narcotics, as well as conspiring to do so. In addition, Bourne was found guilty of wire fraud conspiracy, conspiring to avoid financial reporting requirements through structured financial transactions and of operating a continuing criminal enterprise. Bourne faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, and the government is also seeking forfeiture of the organization's criminally derived proceeds.

A total of 15 defendants have been arrested in connection with this investigation. Twelve were American Airline employees and have since pleaded or been found guilty.