Four workers who were employed by companies at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport have been arrested on federal drug charges, accused of using their jobs to bypass security and transport narcotics across the country, according to an indictment unsealed on Wednesday.
The four were among 46 mostly North Texas individuals who are scheduled to begin appearing in court on Wednesday on a 17-count indictment alleging they worked together to distribute heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine, a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
Molitoni “Tony” Katoa, his wife, Janelle Isaacs, Moniteveti Katoa, and Funaki Falahola are accused of transporting — or helping others to transport — what is believed to be cocaine on commercial flights from DFW to airports in Arizona, New Jersey, Chicago, Kansas and San Francisco, the indictment said.
Eight of the defendants are charged with money laundering or conspiracy to commit money laundering.
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According to the indictment, Falahola told an undercover officer on April 18, 2013, that he could use his contacts to smuggle drugs using United and American Airlines flights to Las Vegas, San Francisco and Miami airports. Falahola said he could get his cousin, Molitoni Katoa, to help.
On May 10, 2013, Falahola introduced the undercover agent to his uncle, Moniteveti Katoa, who said he could get his name placed on the employee flight list as opposed to the standard passenger manifest, thereby circumventing security measures, the indictment stated. Falahola said his cousin and other relatives would aid in the drug smuggling endeavors, the indictment said.
On Sept. 11, 2013, undercover officers gave Falahola a backpack containing four kilograms of a substance the smugglers believed was cocaine and shortly thereafter, Falahola and Moniteveti Katoa boarded an American Airlines flight to Las Vegas, the indictment said. Once the two men landed in Las Vegas, they passed the backpack onto an undercover officer who paid them the agreed fee of $9,000, the indictment said.
Numerous law enforcement agencies were involved in the investigation and arrests, including the FBI, IRS, TSA, Secret Service, Texas Department of Public Safety, and police departments from Dallas, DFW Airport, Fort Worth, McKinney, Mesquite and Plano.
Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752