Two United Airlines baggage handlers have been indicted on a charge of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance after federal prosecutors accused them of running an illegal ring of employees who stole marijuana from checked luggage at San Francisco Airport.
Joel Dunn and Adrian Webb allegedly ran the criminal network from the beginning of 2020 until they were grassed up by an informant who had been approached by Dunn to steal marijuana from passenger luggage.
According to the undercover informant, Dunn would pay them as much as $2,000 per day for stealing marijuana from checked luggage, and sometimes those involved in pilfering cannabis were raking in $10,000 per week.
Dunn and Webb, along with two unnamed suspects, were identified by the informant as the ringleaders of this criminal gang who would transfer all of the stolen marijuana into 20-gallon trash bags, which would then be loaded into their own personal vehicles.
Prosecutors say they have video surveillance footage of Dunn and Webb transferring the bags into the vehicle in the SFO employee parking lot after they were robbed at gunpoint in June 2021.
As part of the police investigation, surveillance footage was reviewed, which showed Dunn, Webb and several other employees moving black trash bags out of the secure area of the airport, and walking towards the parking lot.
More than a year later, law enforcement observed two unnamed suspects carrying two large boxes and a black plastic bag out of the airport. Police obtained a search warrant and found vacuumed sealed bags of marijuana in the boxes and trash bag.
According to an affidavit filed in federal court last week, Dunn is suspected of being the ringleader of the operations, while Webb was his “right-hand man”. Prosecutors say the amount of marijuana seized is indicative of distribution rather than personal use.
As marijuana remains illegal at a federal level, it is a criminal offence to fly interstate with marijuana in your luggage. The Transporation Safety Administration (TSA) says it is required to report suspected violations of the law, but the agency does not actively screen luggage for marijuana.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.