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46 indicted on charges related to smuggling drugs on flights

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DALLAS >> Dozens of people are facing charges related to smuggling drugs on airline flights from Dallas to cities nationwide, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Dallas released a statement saying most of the 46 defendants are from northern Texas and would appear in court beginning Wednesday. They face charges that include intent to distribute cocaine and methamphetamines, conspiracy and money laundering.

Undercover agents gave some suspects packages, purporting they contained drugs, that were then carried onto flights for payments of up to $9,000, according to an indictment unsealed Wednesday. Prosecutors said the drugs were flown to Las Vegas; Newark, New Jersey; Phoenix; Chicago; Wichita, Kansas; and San Francisco.

Authorities said four defendants either worked at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport or used ties to an airport worker to bypass security screening.

It wasn’t immediately clear how many defendants were in custody Wednesday. The U.S. attorney’s office declined comment beyond its press release.

Airport spokesman David Magana released a statement saying airport officials were aware of the FBI sting investigation and that none of the people named in the indictment is employed by Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

One defendant allegedly told an undercover agent that he could ship drugs on passenger flights from the airport.

Agents gave him a backpack containing what they said was cocaine, and the defendant’s cousin flew to Las Vegas and delivered it to another undercover officer, according to the 17-count indictment, which was issued last month by a federal grand jury in Dallas.

Similar sting operations were repeated with flights to ther other cities, authorities said.

The FBI, Dallas police and the Internal Revenue Service were involved in the investigation.

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