A former baggage handler for Delta Air Lines at Los Angeles International Airport is expected to be sentenced Thursday for his part in a cross-country drug smuggling ring.
Ruben Mendoza has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to enter restricted airport areas which carries a potential five year sentence.
The charge stems from his participation in a scheme in which backpacks of heroin and cocaine were taken through an employee entrance at LAX and unloaded into already screened checked luggage. The drugs were smuggled onto flights bound for the East Coast and picked up by passengers in the city where they were sold or distributed.
Mendoza’s bags were not subject to security requirements through the employee entrance.
Another Delta Air Lines baggage handler and co-conspirator Ulysses Blunston was convicted of the same charge and was sentenced to serve one year in prison. Blunston told investigators he received $1,000 per bag and handled close to a dozen bags without being caught.
Torrance resident Peter Contreras has also pleaded guilty to his role in the smuggling ring. He is expected to be sentenced April 24.