Airport drug mastermind found guilty in New York court

– facilitated cocaine shipments from Guyana and Trinidad
One of the two masterminds in the 2007 drug conspiracy involving workers at the JFK Airport in New York who facilitated the shipment of cocaine from Georgetown and Port of Spain has been found guilty and is awaiting sentencing while one of his co-accused has been set free by a jury in a New York court.

Two of the remaining JFK airport workers, who were charged with the conspiracy to import cocaine, conspiracy  to distribute and posses cocaine with intent to distribute, and attempt to import cocaine, are still being tried before Judge Edward R. Korman.

Glenroy Phillips was found guilty by a jury on all the charges in July and now awaits sentencing, while Baron Clarke also called ‘Ryan’ had some of the charges dismissed against him on a submission by Judge Korman while the others were dismissed by the jury.
Paulette Drysdale and Shawn James are still being tried.

Phillips and another accused, Mickey Phillip, were said be the directors of the organisation and they were both refused bail. Since last year December there have been no public records of Mickey Phillip’s case, the last being a letter under seal written to Judge Sandra L. Townes, before whom he was being tried, for transfer from the jail where he was being held on the grounds of health and housing conditions. It is not clear where he requested to be transferred, since the contents of the letter are not public, neither is there any indication of whether the transfer was granted.

Based upon evidence that had been revealed in a US complaint in September 2007 the workers appeared to have had excellent contacts with dealers in Guyana and Trinidad whom they assisted in shipping large quantities of cocaine through the airport. The August 1, 2007 interception of 35 kilogrammes of cocaine originating from Guyana on a Travelspan flight pointed to the drug ring.

In an affidavit of complaint Anthony Salisbury a Special Agent with the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs had said that in or about and between June and September 2007 the workers together with others, did knowingly and intentionally conspire to import a controlled substance into the US from a place outside thereof, which offence involved five kilogrammes or more of a substance containing cocaine.

According to the complaint, two confidential sources of information were employed by law enforcement agents. The sources were provided with recording devices, but owing to the unexpected nature of several of the meetings they had with the defendants, some of the conversations were not recorded.

Salisbury had said in his affidavit that there was probable cause that the defendants were involved in the smuggling of narcotics, including cocaine into the US from abroad. He said his investigation was aimed at dismantling an internal conspiracy between employees at the JFK Airport, Queens New York assisting with the importation of narcotics into the US from Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana.

According to the agent, based on his training and experience and discussions with other law enforcement officers, he knew these types of conspiracies were particularly effective in the smuggling of contraband into the US. According to him, oftentimes they involved airport employees, such as baggage handlers and maintenance persons, who had virtually unfettered and unsupervised access to arriving international flights prior to their routine inspection by federal authorities. As such, these individuals were able to surreptitiously unload illegal merchandise, such as narcotics from an arriving aircraft and transport it to another location for pick-up.

Salisbury had also said while measures were employed to observe their movements such as closed circuit cameras, the employees were often familiar with such measures and able to tailor their criminal activities to avoid observation. He said that because they were so effective, these types of conspiracies often involved multi-kilogramme quantities of narcotics, much larger than those typically attempted to be smuggled by a single narcotics courier.

Further, the US official had indicated that the investigation fingered Phillips and Phillip as the directors of the narcotics organization, which comprised corrupt airport employees who diverted luggage containing large amounts of narcotics, including cocaine off international flights. Salisbury said these employees also included Clarke, Drysdale and James.

Giving a background to the case, Salisbury had said that in or around 2005 Mickey Phillip was brought to the attention of law enforcement after he spoke with one of the two confidential sources and offered his assistance in importing narcotics into the US. Phillip, according to Salisbury, explained to the source that he could have drug-laden luggage diverted off certain international flights. That way, he said, the bags would avoid detection and interdiction by law enforcement and be safely smuggled into the US for delivery elsewhere.

Later in or around June 2007 year, the source advised Phillip that a narcotics trafficker with whom the source worked was interested in using Phillip’s services. During several subsequent conversations, Phillip and the source discussed scheduling a meeting.

In one such conversation, which was recorded with the consent of the source, Phillip expressed his concern over the intended meeting for fear that the individual was a police officer. Specifically Phillip asked the source, “How long you know this man? Are you sure the man is not a policeman?” Salisbury said in his affidavit. He said after the source allayed his concerns, Phillip had additional meetings with the source over the intended meeting with the source’s drug connection. During one such conversation on or about June 19, 2007, Glenroy Phillips was present, but did not speak.

The men had several other meetings one on June 19, 2007, where Glenroy Phillips advised one of the law enforcement sources that he and others were able to remove two bags once a week from international flights, preferably from Guyana. Phillips and the source then negotiated the price for Phillips’s service, which was ultimately agreed upon to be US$5,000 per bag.

Phillips also advised the source that weight was not a restriction and that they were able to move as much drugs as could be placed in the bags.

Cocaine from Guyana
Further, Salisbury’s affidavit said that on August 1 2007 , law enforcement conducted an inspection of an arriving Travelspan Airline flight at JFK Airport from Georgetown, Guyana. This flight, Salisbury said, was of interest to law enforcement conducting the investigation because Phillips had explained to one of the sources that this was a flight from which he could remove bags.

Salisbury said an inspection of luggage being unloaded from the flight led to the recovery of approximately 35 kilogrammes of cocaine inside the bag of a passenger on the flight. It was a Guyanese man, Gavin Waaldijk of Linden who was sentenced to 42 months in prison in June of last year after pleading guilty to the charge. The 35 kilos of cocaine were contained in brick-shaped objects in his suitcase. He had boarded Travelspan airline Flight Number 053 on Emancipation Day and was intercepted at the JFK Airport by officers using a narcotics detecting dog.

Salisbury had said in his affidavit that later that day following the seizure one of the confidential sources contacted Phillips to discuss the use of Primaris. Salisbury had said this conversation was tapped into and Phillips was heard saying during the conversation:

“There was drama this morning” referring to the recovery of the drug-laden suitcase by law enforcement. Salisbury said while Phillips claimed he had nothing to do with it, he said Mickey Phillip had a “small thing to do with that.“ Salisbury outlined that Mickey Phillip’s involvement was later confirmed in another conversation between one of the confidential sources and Phillips in an August 9 conversation. During that conversation, Salisbury said, the source asked Phillips whether he was ready to try again.

Salisbury submitted that since the August 1 seizure Phillip had become very concerned over the presence of law enforcement. In a conversation between himself and James, one of the defendants, the men discussed the continued pressure from Customs. The US agents also tapped into conversations between Mickey Phillip and Glenroy Phillips on September 5 2007 where the two men appeared to have discussed an impending load of narcotics.

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