100,000 Mini Bottles of Booze Go AWOL
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In an investigation aptly dubbed “Operation Last Call,” investigators have nabbed 18 employees at the JFK airport for stealing 100,000 mini liquor bottles over the course of five months. They also stole "duty-free items—such as larger bottles of liquor, perfume, and cartons of cigarettes—with an overall estimated retail value of more than $750,000," according to Queens DA Richard Brown. The mini liquor ring involved 15 current and former truck drivers for LSG Sky Chefs (who are responsible for American Airlines' food) and three security guards. Drivers are supposed to bring all the unsold bottles and merchandise from American Airlines flights back to storage, but the drivers would skim a few off the top each time—ultimately amounting to a significant haul. A police raid on the homes of a retired driver recovered "500 to 600 garbage bags filled with mini liquor bottles. Each bag contained approximately 100 bottles worth between $385,000 and $420,000, as well as $34,000 in cash,” says the DA. Undercover agents also made 57 purchases of 57,000 mini liquor bottles from the conspirators. “Perhaps more troubling is that airport security personnel entrusted with guarding against theft and maintaining security at the airport were allegedly involved in the scheme,” says Brown. “If a terrorist wanted to breach airport security, the alleged actions of these defendants gave them a back-door opportunity to do so.” The defendants face a range of charges including bribe receiving, grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property.