TSA Agents and Cops "Took Oxy Bribes"

By Jed Bickman 09/14/11

The DEA busts a network of law enforcement officers who allegedly aided the distribution of large quantities of oxycodone up the East Coast.

Lining them up in the Sunshine State. Photo via

Three Transportation Security Administration agents and two cops were arrested in Connecticut yesterday for letting vast quantities of oxycodone move freely around the country in exchange for cash and gift card bribes. They were among twenty people rounded up in a DEA sting called “Operation Blue Coast,” which involved setting up a fake oxy sale. TSA's Christopher Allen and John Best, both of Florida, and Brigitte Jones, of New York, along with NYPD officer Michael Brady—all of whom allowed pills to pass through airports where they were stationed—were charged with conspiring to distribute oxycodone and possessing with intent to distribute. Florida trooper Justin Kolves, 28—whose role was to ensure the safe passage of cash and pills by car through the Sunshine State—faces the same charges, which carry sentences of up to 20 years in prison. These latest swoops came after agents arrested a man who regularly purchased thousands of oxycodone pills in Palm Beach and flew up to Westchester County, where he could count on his TSA contacts to let him through in exchange for payments. Meanwhile Florida battles a notorious pill problem. The state is well-known as a center for pill mill operations, and is considered the source for much of the oxycodone on the east coast. Doctors in Florida bought an astonishing 89% of all the oxycodone legally sold in the US last year. Florida's pain clinics frequently supply oxy to Appalachia, giving rise to a category of people who travel to Florida to transport drugs up to their home states—dubbed “pillbillies” by the press.

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Jed Bickman is a journalist and copywriter living in the greater New York City area. He is the associate editor at The New Press. You can find him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.