Oakland airport baggage handlers charged with pot smuggling

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Three baggage handlers at Oakland International Airport are accused of using their security clearance to get marijuana-packed suitcases past checkpoints and onto planes as part of a drug smuggling ring involving 11 other people, federal prosecutors said.

The trio handed off the marijuana to other participants posing as passengers, who would transport them as carry-on luggage to cities nationwide, authorities say.

They got the drugs into the airport by walking into an employee-only area that doesn't require security screenings, prosecutors said. Then, they are accused of using their security badges to open a door to a section of a terminal where passengers already have been screened and handing the drugs to some of the other defendants.

The group was operating as early as July 2012, according to the complaint.

The baggage handlers were identified as Kenneth Wayne Fleming of San Leandro and Keith Ramon Mayfield and Michael Herb Videau, both of Oakland. It was not immediately clear whether they had attorneys.

The three men have been charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana, prosecutors said.

Mayfield also is accused of shipping drugs as cargo. Fleming was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.

Most of the defendants were from the San Francisco Bay Area, but prosecutors also charged an Arkansas woman and a Louisiana man.

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