Airline Employee Heading DFW Airport Drug Smuggling Ring Sentenced to 16 Years in Prison

Dallas – The lead defendant in a drug-smuggling ring that attempted to traffic methamphetamine through the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport was sentenced this afternoon to 16 years and 8 months in federal prison, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox. Nelson Pabon, 48, pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

Pabon, a former airline supervisory crew chief, admitted that he worked with several individuals to circumvent security at DFW airport in order to load purported drugs onto commercial flights. Pabon told undercover agents that because he received advance notice of narcotic canine baggage sweeps, he was well-positioned to sneak drugs onto cross-country jets in return for cash.

On at least six occasions between August 2016 and May 2018, Pabon and his co-conspirators smuggled purported crystal meth. Other members of the conspiracy smuggle purported crystal methamphetamine onto commercial flights to Charlotte, North Carolina, and Phoenix, Arizona.

Pabon even acknowledged he contemplated smuggling inert explosives, which he was told would not combust en route, and told others, that they would get paid more for smuggling the explosives.

U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox said, “Airport and airline workers cannot be allowed to leverage their positions of trust and profit off transporting deadly substances. We must all be insist that every precaution is taken to prevent security breaches of this type.”

Pabon is one of 12 coconspirators indicted in two cases involving bypassing airport security to smuggle contraband onto commercial airline flights at DFW. Two co-defendants, Benitez Matienzo, a 46 -year-old baggage handler, and Michael Alexis Riviera Vasquez, a 22-year-old baggage handler, were sentenced today to 45 months and 48 months.

The law enforcement operation was led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Dallas Field Office, the Dallas Police Department, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division. Assistant U.S. Attorneys George Leal, John de la Garza, and John Kull are prosecuting the cases.

SOURCE: KCBD NewsChannel 11