A former bag handler at Newark Liberty International Airport was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Friday for using his position to smuggle cocaine into the country, authorities said.
Tyrone Woolaston, of Orange, NJ, was convicted in 2019 of conspiracy to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine and use a firearm to encourage the cocaine trade.
He was one of the leading baggage handlers for a major commercial airline when he began smuggling cocaine shipments into the U.S. in 2013 using his secure access to bypass customs, according to New York’s Southern District prosecutors.
In 2018, agents from the Department of Homeland Security’s New Jersey Office performed a stabbing operation on a confidential informant, officials said.
After meeting the informant, Woolaston agreed to carry a suitcase filled with 5 kilos of cocaine from the airport and deliver it.
On February 10, 2018, agents placed the bag filled with counterfeit bricks on a flight from the Cayman Islands, and Woolaston dutifully picked it up from the baggage ramp.
The next day, he packed a .40 caliber Glock pistol with a laser sight, handed the case to the informant, and was immediately arrested, officials said.