Department of Justice
- An American Airlines mechanic was convicted of smuggling cocaine, prosecutors said Tuesday.
- Paul Belloisi kept 10 bricks of cocaine in a compartment underneath the plane’s cockpit, they said.
- The drugs were worth as much as $320,000, they added. Belloisi faces up to 20 years in prison.
An American Airlines mechanic was found guilty of trying to smuggle more than $300,000 worth of cocaine by stashing it in a hidden compartment in a plane’s cockpit, prosecutors said in a press release on Tuesday.
Paul Belloisi, 55, who worked at John F. Kennedy Airport for around 3o years, was convicted of conspiring to possess cocaine, conspiring to import cocaine, and importing cocaine, the release said.
Prosecutors said that Belloisi tried to smuggle the drugs — worth as much as $320,000 — on a flight that landed in New York from Jamaica on February 4.
Customs and Border Patrol officers first discovered 10 bricks of cocaine that weighed more than 25 pounds hidden inside an electronics compartment on the underside of the American Airlines plane, the press release said.
To find out who was smuggling the drugs, officers removed the bricks of cocaine and replaced them with fake bricks, which they then sprayed with a substance that, if touched, would illuminate under a certain type of light.
They placed the plane under surveillance until they saw Belloisi enter the electronics compartment. The gloves he was wearing were glowing under the black light, prosecutors said.
“This corrupt airline mechanic not only abused his position of trust and undermined the security of a vital border crossing in our district, but was also willing to potentially endanger the safety of travelers as well as the community,” Breon Peace, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said, according to the press release.
American Airlines did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Prior to his conviction, Belloisi pleaded not guilty, with his attorney, David Besso, arguing that the mechanic had a “spotless” record and no criminal history, CNN reported at the time.
He now faces up to 20 years in prison.