Man Posing As Pilot Caught Smuggling $85,000 Worth Of Cocaine

By William Georgiades 04/07/17

The imposter pilot was caught trying to smuggle five pounds of cocaine into the US.

Blurred image of pilots walking at the airport terminal

A fake airline pilot, but reported real-life drug smuggler, was arrested at New York’s JFK airport last week attempting to smuggle $85,000 worth of cocaine into the country. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials became suspicious of the traveler after he presented them with fake Delta airline badges.

According to the officials, Mario Hudson was traveling from his home in Kingston, Jamaica, dressed as a pilot and carrying a bag with fake Delta tags and fake airline ID badges. He pretended to be a “dead-heading crew member,” an airline employee traveling but not working on that particular flight.

Unfortunately for Hudson, agents could see that his identification did not look official. They also noted that the sides and bottom of his bag were overstuffed and unusually heavy. He was taken to a private search room where agents quickly tested the substance inside his bulging suitcase, which turned out to be five pounds of cocaine.

Leon Hayward, CBP's acting director of Field Operations in New York, said, “This seizure demonstrates the vigilance and dedication demonstrated daily by CBP officers at JFK, in keeping these prohibited and dangerous narcotics off the streets of our communities.”

Hudson follows a long line of other hopeful drug smugglers caught in the act. Last December, former Jamaican beauty queen and Jet Blue flight attendant Marsha Gay Reynolds was stopped at LAX after attempting to smuggle 70 pounds of cocaine into the country. She went on the run, and later surrendered in New York.

In 2014, four Jet Blue employees were arrested for attempting to bring $417,000 of drug money onto flights at Boston’s Logan airport. The ground operations employees had used their security clearance to sneak the drug money into the airport and past TSA agents. They were charged with conspiring to commit fraud against the government and money laundering.

And earlier this year, a dozen members of a TSA drug-trafficking ring were arrested in a nationwide $100 million drug-smuggling ring. Half of the smuggling gang were current and former TSA workers. Over almost two decades, the smuggling ring trafficked 20 tons of cocaine through airport security and into the United States. 

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William Georgiades is a former editor at EsquireBlack Book, the New York Post and the Grapevine and has written for several publications including New York MagazineVanity Fair, the London Times and GQ. He has been the features editor at The Fix since 2013. You can find him on Linkedin.