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Posted: 2/12/2006 2:09:30 PM EDT
Drug Smuggling Air Marshals?
The arrest of a pair of agents on possible cocaine charges raises new concerns about the aviation security program
By SALLY B. DONNELLY
WASHINGTON
Feb. 10, 2006
Time.com
www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1158902,00.html
For a law enforcement agency that works hard to be invisible, the Federal Air Marshals have been generating a lot of attention lately. On Thursday, two of the agency's several thousand highly trained traveling armed guards were taken into custody in Houston. Although the US Attorney's office would not comment beyond acknowledging that the Air Marshals were arrested by agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General's office, Government sources tell TIME that the two Air Marshals, are allegedly involved with the possession or transportation of cocaine, and may have been paid several thousand dollars to move the drugs.

The marshals, one of whom is a former agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration, will likely appear in court to face criminal charges next week, and will almost certainly be suspended.

The incident comes only two months after two marshals shot and killed a man who claimed—falsely, as it turned out—to have a bomb while boarding an airplane in Miami. Although the official results of an investigation will not be complete until late spring, it is expected to conclude that the agents acted appropriately in their dealings with the passenger.

The arrest in Houston is a shock to an agency that plays an important role in aviation security. Although there have been air marshals flying for decades, on Sept. 11, 2001, the numbers had dwindled to only three dozen agents. After the attacks, the agency was drastically increased in size and many agents were drafted from other law enforcement agencies and local police departments.

New agents were-and are—subject to security screening and background checks similar to other federal law enforcement agencies, which are required to be updated only every five years.

Critics said the rush to expand allowed too many inexperienced men and women into the service, and there were reports of marshals clashing with airline personnel or other law enforcement agents. Aviation sources say the agency has spent the last few years weeding out poor performers, but the arrest of the two agents in Houston is sure to further stoke those concerns.
Link Posted: 2/12/2006 2:12:07 PM EDT
I love it when a$$holes take it upon themselves to trash the reputation of every member of an agency like that. If it's true I hope they hang em.
Link Posted: 2/12/2006 2:36:28 PM EDT
I wish they would hang the bad apples out to dry, I think it would give them a better public image
Link Posted: 2/12/2006 3:03:31 PM EDT
We're a little short on facts here. But I wouldn't be surprised if some airline employees were also involved.
Link Posted: 2/12/2006 3:08:31 PM EDT
The war on drugs doing EXACTLY what the prohibition of alcohol did. It breeds corruption.

Damn shame.
Link Posted: 2/17/2006 11:33:47 PM EDT
Other air marshals implicated
Testimony in detention hearing indicates 2 held in drug smuggling may have had help
HARVEY RICE
Houston Chronicle
2-16-06
www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/headline/metro/3666132.html
A dramatic courtroom confrontation and other testimony Thursday signaled that other federal air marshals based in Houston could be part of an investigation that snared two air marshals on drug-smuggling charges.

The confrontation came between a prosecutor and an air marshal who appeared as a character witness during a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Smith to determine whether the accused marshals should be released on bail.

Shawn Ray Nguyen, 32, and Burlie L. Sholar III, 38, both of Houston, are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, which carries a sentence of 10 years to life in prison and a maximum fine of $4 million.

Testimony in their detention hearing had indicated Nguyen told investigators that other air marshals might be involved in wrongdoing.

Sholar had warned Nguyen while they were in custody that if he gave incriminating information about other air marshals, "his life wasn't worth anything," according to testimony from Stuart Maneth, agent with the Inspector General's Office of the Homeland Security Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark McIntyre then surprised the defense by calling to the stand Patrick Hightower, one of four air marshals who came as character witnesses for Sholar.

McIntyre thrust two altered travel documents in front of Hightower, forcing him to admit that he and Sholar had stayed together in a single hotel room and billed the government for two rooms.

"Do you know that is fraud?" McIntyre asked. Hightower said he did.

Although McIntyre said he had evidence of other instances of fraud, Smith cut off further questioning, saying that the issue was whether Nguyen and Sholar were flight risks and a danger to the community.

During a break, Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Gallagher said "no comment" when asked whether other air marshals are under investigation.

Smith set appearance bonds of $100,000 with electronic monitoring for both defendants and ordered Nguyen to undergo psychiatric treatment.

McIntyre and fellow prosecutor James Alston said they would appeal to a U.S. district judge. Smith said he would stay his order until Tuesday so the government can appeal.

George Parnham, attorney for Sholar, put Sholar's wife, Deborah, on as a character witness. She said Sholar was a member of the Old Guard unit of the Army, an elite unit that guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery, before joining the U.S. Capitol Police in Washington, D.C., where he had top-secret clearance and was a member of the unit that shared responsibility for the president's security.

He left the Capitol Police to work for the Los Angeles Police Department from 1996 to 2001, when he became an air marshal.

Kent Schaffer, attorney for Nguyen, put family members on the stand who testified that Nguyen was on medical leave because of a neck injury and was being forced to leave his job as an air marshal.

Nguyen's sister, Ann Richardson of Augusta, N.C., testified that he was depressed, worried about money and about his ex-wife's seeking an increase in child-support payments.

McIntyre portrayed Nguyen and Sholar as dangerous, citing death threats by each.

Maneth testified that Nguyen had threatened to kill a confidential witness if the informant exposed the air marshals, at one point saying, "If you tell anything, I'll put you to sleep, I swear to God."

At another meeting, Nguyen suggested he and Sholar could kill with impunity, saying, "Homeboy and I can kill and get away with it," Maneth testified.
Link Posted: 2/17/2006 11:39:34 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/17/2006 11:48:53 PM EDT by Sukebe]
The Presidential Airlift Squadron (AF1/AF2, etc.) does not go through customs, ever. Consider the possibilities.
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 12:23:44 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Sukebe:
The Presidential Airlift Squadron (AF1/AF2, etc.) does not go through customs, ever. Consider the possibilities.



I would think they have explosives dogs on anything the pres might be traveling in, pretty often. Is it possible these dogs be trained for narcotics too?
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 1:43:42 AM EDT
Lets see, greedy ex-wife, ex LEO of LAPD and DC, all we need is a few dogs in cages shot.

If guilty, toss their ass in General Population, they sound like a bunch of losers who should have never been cops in the first place. LOVE the "hurt ma neck" BS excuse, wife is probably angling to try to get some $$$$ from some stupid suit.
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 8:04:05 AM EDT
Very sad.
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 8:09:54 AM EDT

Originally Posted By LVMIKE:

Originally Posted By Sukebe:
The Presidential Airlift Squadron (AF1/AF2, etc.) does not go through customs, ever. Consider the possibilities.



I would think they have explosives dogs on anything the pres might be traveling in, pretty often. Is it possible these dogs be trained for narcotics too?



From what I understand dogs are either bomb or drug sniffers, not both. And let me tell you, as a crew chief that does a whole lot of traveling with my jet, that if people in the industry want to hide stuff there are ways to do it that no customs agent would ever find.

Although reference these agents and the C-5 crew last year that got busted for heroin smuggeling, in addition to the who "it's illegal" thing, and you have why I would never even consider it.
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 9:25:11 AM EDT

Originally Posted By unkempt1:
The war on drugs doing EXACTLY what the prohibition of alcohol did. It breeds corruption.



No it doesn't breed corruption. It offers corrupt lowlifes a way to make money. I could make a great second income in all sorts of fields: drugs, theft, gun-running, muder-for-hire, but I don't because I'm not a lowlife scumbag.

You sounds just like the twits in my local community: "of course our children deal drugs, it pays more than McDonalds jobs."
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 9:49:33 AM EDT

Originally Posted By GunLvrPHD:

Originally Posted By unkempt1:
The war on drugs doing EXACTLY what the prohibition of alcohol did. It breeds corruption.



No it doesn't breed corruption. It offers corrupt lowlifes a way to make money. I could make a great second income in all sorts of fields: drugs, theft, gun-running, muder-for-hire, but I don't because I'm not a lowlife scumbag.

You sounds just like the twits in my local community: "of course our children deal drugs, it pays more than McDonalds jobs."



“It pays more” is a huge understatement. $2000 a day anyone? Plus it's a low risk, low violence, proposition; you have regular customers for christ’s sake. Certainly when compared to robbing banks, snatching purses and murder for hire or whatever. Remember, we only hear about the tiny fraction of deals that go real bad. Not the millions upon millions of transaction the go down every year like clockwork. You can’t stop the free market.

Legalize it and the black market evaporates. It’s really that easy.
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