Workers who used their positions with companies doing business with Dallas-Fort Worth Airport bragged to federal agents that they could safely move drugs to several cities across the country.
Now the third of these four employees who have pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy charges is receiving a long prison sentence, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office.
Funaki Falahola, 35, was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in federal prison after his guilty plea in May to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of at least 5 kilograms of cocaine, the release said.
Falahola has been in custody since his arrest in mid-July 2015, according to the release. Molitoni “Tony” Katoa, 34; his wife, Janelle Isaacs, 42; Moniteveti Katoa, 53; and Falahola were accused of transporting or helping others to transport what they believed was cocaine on commercial flights from DFW to airports in Arizona, New Jersey, Chicago, Kansas and San Francisco, the indictment said.
In September, Moniteveti Katoa was sentenced to more than 15 years and Molitoni Katoa was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in federal prison. Janelle Isaacs is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 1, the release said.
On May 10, 2013, Falahola introduced an undercover agent to his uncle, Moniteveti Katoa, who said he could get his name placed on the employee flight list instead of the standard passenger manifest, thereby circumventing security measures, the indictment stated.
On Sept. 11, 2013, undercover officers gave Falahola a backpack containing 4 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 to an undercover officer, who paid them the agreed fee of $9,000, the indictment said.
The four defendants received more than $25,000 for trips made to Newark, N.J.; Tempe, Ariz.; Chicago; Wichita, Kan.; and San Francisco, between Sept. 22, 2014, and May 24, the indictment said.
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.