LOS ANGELES – A former Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer was arrested today on a federal criminal complaint alleging he smuggled what he believed was methamphetamine through Los Angeles International Airport in exchange for a total of $8,000 in cash.
Michael Williams, 39, of Hawthorne, is charged with one count of attempting to distribute methamphetamine. He is expected to make his initial appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles.
According to an affidavit filed with the complaint, authorities in 2020 conducted undercover operations involving Williams, whom they suspected of helping smuggle narcotics past security checkpoints at LAX. During the operations, Williams allegedly met with a drug source to exchange methamphetamine in the days prior leading up to his shift at LAX.
As a TSA employee with unscreened access to LAX, Williams agreed to deliver the “methamphetamine” in a backpack to the drug source’s accomplice in the men’s restroom on the secure side of the airport terminal.
After taking possession of what he believed was real narcotics, Williams allegedly transported an unscreened package containing the fake methamphetamine beyond the TSA screening area and delivered the package to another individual. This individual, whom Williams did not know was a federal agent, on both occasions exchanged $4,000 in cash in the stalls of the men’s restroom in the airport’s secure area.
Williams was observed on LAX’s security cameras exiting the restroom while wearing his TSA uniform en route to begin his shift screening passengers and luggage.
A complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
If convicted, Williams would face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
The FBI, DEA and the Los Angeles HIDTA investigated this matter.
Assistant United States Attorneys Jeremiah M. Levine and Jeffrey M. Chemerinsky of the Violent and Organized Crime Section are prosecuting this case.