Former TSA Officer Charged with Smuggling Cocaine

Former TSA Officer Miguel Batista Jr., 26, was charged Monday with possession with intent to distribute cocaine, U.S. Attorney Gretchen Shappert announced Tuesday.

According to Shappert, Batista appeared Monday before District Judge Curtis Gomez for an advice of rights hearing after being taken into custody by the Department of Homeland Security Investigations at Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Gomez remanded Batista to federal custody pending his detention hearing Wednesday.

According to court records, Batista presented himself Saturday to the Customs and Border Protection pre-departure checkpoint in an attempt to board Jet Blue flight No. 1035 to San Juan, Puerto Rico. He was referred to a secondary inspection, where CBP officers noticed that he was wearing a suspicious undergarment. When questioned about the undergarment, Batista told CBP officers that he was in a car accident and had to wear the garment for support. Further inspection revealed a hard, brick-shaped object concealed under Batista’s undergarment and duct taped to his left torso. After removing the brick-shaped object, CBP officers discovered a vacuum-sealed package covered in blue and white paper which contained a white powdery substance.

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The white powdered substance tested positive for the presence of cocaine, and weighed approximately 1.03 kilos, Shappert’s news release said.

The case is being investigated by the Homeland Security Investigations, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Delia Smith.

Attorney Shappert reminds the public that the hearing is merely a formal charging document and is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant is presumed innocent until found guilty.

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