A former Transportation Security Administration officer pleaded guilty Friday to smuggling what he believed was methamphetamine through Los Angeles International Airport in exchange for $8,000.
Michael Williams, 39, of Hawthorne, entered his plea to one federal count of attempting to distribute methamphetamine, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years behind bars, prosecutors said.
Sentencing was scheduled for Nov. 4.
The defendant was arrested in 2020 after authorities conducted undercover operations involving Williams, whom they suspected of helping smuggle narcotics past security checkpoints at LAX.
During the investigation, Williams allegedly met with a drug source to exchange methamphetamine in the days prior leading up to his shifts at LAX, court papers show.
As a TSA employee with unscreened access to LAX, Williams twice agreed to deliver what he thought was methamphetamine in a backpack to the drug source's accomplice in a men's restroom on the secure side of the airport terminal, federal prosecutors allege.
After taking possession of what he believed were real narcotics, Williams allegedly transported an unscreened package containing the fake methamphetamine beyond the TSA screening area and delivered the package. The person who accepted the package, who Williams did not know was a federal agent, on both occasions exchanged $4,000 in cash in the restroom stalls, prosecutors stated.
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Williams was observed on LAX's security cameras exiting the restroom while wearing his TSA uniform en route to begin his shift screening passengers and luggage, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.