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American Airlines Mechanic Found Guilty of Smuggling $320,000 Worth of Cocaine

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After Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents discovered ten bricks of cocaine hidden inside a unique compartment under the cockpit of an airplane, the American Airlines aircraft mechanic was found guilty of smuggling $320,000 worth of cocaine into the country.

Following a trial in Brooklyn district court, Paul Belloisi was found guilty by a federal jury of all three counts in an indictment accusing him of conspiring to possess cocaine, conspiring to import cocaine, and importing cocaine.

Belloisi, according to the prosecution, was the inside man in a global drug trafficking organization that was in charge of bringing significant amounts of cocaine from Jamaica into the country illegally.

Following the verdict, Breon Peace, US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said Belloisi was “caught red-handed trying to facilitate the smuggling of a large stash of cocaine hidden in an electronics compartment of the aircraft.”

“This corrupt airline mechanic not only abused his position of trust and undermined the security of a vital border crossing in our district but was also willing to potentially endanger the safety of travelers as well as the community,” Peace continued.

Belloisi had unrestricted access to the airfield and was able to board and depart aboard American Airlines aircraft without fear of confrontation.

On February 4, 2020, at around 3:30 pm, American Airlines flight AA1349 had just landed at Terminal 8 at New York JFK after taking off from Montego Bay, Jamaica, when CBP officials made the decision to conduct a random enforcement examination of the aircraft.

The main avionics compartment, which is located beneath the cockpit but is reachable from the ground, was searched as part of the examination. They discovered ten bricks of what seemed to be cocaine during this examination, hidden underneath an insulation compartment.

CBP removed the bricks but then replaced them with dummy drug bricks that had been sprayed with a substance that glows when illuminated. They also placed a transponder in the compartment to alert them if the bricks were moved and began a surveillance job on the airplane.

No one came close to the airplane for a number of hours, even though its subsequent trip was scheduled to take off at 8 p.m. Belloisi was seen driving up to the front of the jet and entering the avionics compartment about 20 minutes before its planned departure when passengers were already boarding the aircraft.

The transponder activated shortly after Belloisi entered the compartment, and CBP inspectors rushed to the aircraft as they watched Belloisi reposition the insulation blanket that the bricks were hiding behind.

Belloisi’s gloves glowed from the substance that had been on the bricks, and he was detained for questioning. Belloisi was found to have cut holes into the inside of his work coat that created compartments capable of holding the bricks. He also had an empty mechanics bag in his vehicle.

The drug bricks, which weighed more than 35 pounds, proved positive for cocaine in a field test. The street worth of the cocaine, according to officials, was between $285,000 and $320,000.

A Los Angeles International Airport-based American Airlines mechanic was charged in 2020 with using his position to help in the smuggling of Khat into the country.

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