JFK Airport Is Notoriously Corrupt: Baggage Handlers Caught Stealing $250,000 In Diamonds

Not long after JetBlue customer service people were caught stealing credit card numbers, and baggage handlers were busted for running a smuggling ring, JFK finds itself in the middle of yet another scandal.

Queens prosecutors said Monday that a 51-year-old worker and his 39-year-old supervisor are charged with grand larceny and possession of stolen property. They say the jewelry was stolen last week from a container marked “high value” that was being shipped from Switzerland to Brazil.

We won’t lie, corrupt baggage handlers piss us off. These two specimens broke open the container and stole the jewelry, hiding it in a locker at the American Airlines terminal.

If convicted, they’ll face 15 years in prison.

JFK workers charged with taking diamonds [BusinessWeek]
(Photo:Peter Gene)


Edit Your Comment

  1. aro says:

    why would you ever mark a container “high value”?

  2. Toof_75_75 says:

    I’m marking my stuff…”nothing worthwhile”

  3. @aro: The same people who carry money around in bags with $$$$’s on them.

  4. darkened says:

    make $10.50/hr being the airlines luggage bitch or smuggle millions of dollars of drugs and diamonds… hmmmmmmm

  5. OK, if you’re shipping diamonds, why not just wrap them up in a pair of dirty skeevy underwear. You can wash the diamonds off, and I’m not sure who would mess with a box of dirty underwear.

  6. IphtashuFitz says:

    @aro: The police conducting a sting to see if the baggage handlers are trustworthy or not.

  7. Balisong says:

    @gitemstevedave: You mean those guys that wear black and white striped jumpsuits?

  8. forgottenpassword says:

    You’d think that if a business was going to ship something that is extremely valuable (gold bars, diamonds etc. etc..) that they would be shipped via an EXTREMELY trusted company that specializes in this kind of thing.

    You dont hire some regular schlub off the street as a bodyguard…. you hire a professional who is trusted to know what he’s doing & trained specifically for that purpose. Why then hire a regular shipper to ship valuables?

    Question… why were baggage handlers even given access to a cargo hold that has such extremely valuable cargo? Just doesnt seem like a smart thing to do.

    I assume this is a business (that owned the jewels) & not some idiot passenger who packed their jewelry into a checked luggage.

  9. What The Geek says:

    I’d just like to take a second and point out the fact that if any one of us attempted to board a plane with a tube of toothpaste that was one ounce larger than the TSA approved tubes of toothpaste, we’d be treated as potential terrorists, and have our toothpaste taken from us. Meanwhile, the guys behind the scenes are left to do whatever they feel like?

    Ya know what I really like? Trains. I’ve never had to take off my shoes to get on a train. I’ve never had my luggage rifled through by train station security. I’ve never heard of a baby getting put on the “No Ride” list because they share a name with a suspected terrorist.

  10. kimsama says:

    @forgottenpassword: That’s what I was thinking, too. Jeez, I don’t check my $800 camera because I’m afraid it’ll be stolen. How exactly are these people in possession of $250k in diamonds and yet this stupid? Ah, inherited money, you strike again!

    Also: is there some reason we can’t have video surveillance of the baggage areas? Or do we and it’s just not implemented correctly? Because, like, there are video cameras watching the cashiers at the effing Gap, and I’m pretty sure they don’t handle $250k in diamonds.

    @whatthegeek: Right on, I wish that the U.S. had a decent rail infrastructure like other first world countries. I’d go 100% if I could.

  11. ClayS says:

    Diamonds just might be something you would want to carry on your person or pack into a carryon bag.

  12. forgottenpassword says:


    However…. I wonder if you would have to officially declare them since they are so valuable & very easy to smuggle. I know that of you plan on taking over $10,000 in cash out of the country via an airline that you have to declare it.

    If I were to smuggle a lot of money out of the country, I’d convert them to diamonds & then carry them on my person when boarding a airliner.

  13. rawsteak says:

    maybe im just good at remembering random facts, but i recall a comment someone posted about how he registered a gun in his luggage, which the airlines never “lost” or “misplaced.” the post was something about an instrument that the airline didn’t permit to be a carry on. in any case, wouldn’t you carry $250,000 ON YOUR PERSON??

  14. pegr says:

    Except diamonds have no intrinzic value…

  15. The Great Aussie Evil says:

    Was it the TSA this time?

  16. Imaginary_Friend says:

    “Each of the men is held on $5,000 bail and faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.”

    Gee, bail for possession of pot or attempted car theft is higher than that!

  17. legotech says:

    @rawsteak: Nope, you are correct, if you declare a firearm in your luggage, your luggage will be treated like royalty. Even if its a starter pistol.

  18. johnva says:

    @forgottenpassword: Diamonds aren’t easy to resell for full value, like gold is. Not a great method of smuggling money.

  19. Scudder says:

    @whatthegeek: I so agree…who is watching these people to prevent them from placing something IN one’s luggage?

  20. FMulder says:

    @legotech: So what you are saying is that we should alway pack a starter pistol in our luggage?

  21. shadow735 says:

    250k in diamonds so where is the armored tranport?
    I guess you cant buy intelligence.

  22. Wormfather says:

    @kimsama: The problem there is “hell no”, the only place in the US that the railways make money is in the North East and we’re rammed up the behind enough for the privilage. Here in the US we ::used:: to have a better air travel buisness, now, I’m not so sure.

    But then again, Hethrow looses more baggage then any other air port in the world (which some of my exes had that ability ::rim shot::), now stolen luggage is another story, I can live with that, at least it wasnt incompitence.

  23. EtherealStrife says:

    Pfft. Amateurs. You steal one diamond and leave the rest! Greed killed these saps.

    @noasalira: Yep. I’ve never done it myself, but starter pistols are cheap and if you google around a bit you should come across blogs of people who do this regularly.

  24. ZzFDKzZ says:

    @THE GREAT AUSSIE EVIL: The article says Baggage Handlers, not TSA.

  25. foxbat2500 says:

    JFK is a great airport…for a 3rd world country. Seriously I avoid that place like the plague.

  26. Stan LS says:

    @kimsama: Uh, no, no stupidity here. The only reason the thiefs knew how much the package was worth is because it was insured for $250k. There’s a more detailed article out there.

  27. CurbRunner says:

    I always carry on board all of my valuables.
    I just consider my check in baggage as something I left on a street curb downtown and hope for the best and hope that someone returns it.

  28. aka Cat says:

    I wonder if it was checked instead of carry-on because it was cargo rather than part of a passenger’s baggage?

    At any rate, if I ever need to ship $250k worth of diamonds by any means less than armored guard, it’s going into an odor-proof bag within a box labeled “veterinary stool samples” and containing a non-veterinary sample.

  29. Javert says:

    I am not one for stealing, which is always wrong be it downloading movies to take posessions out of a suitcase but wtf? Had they not found the diamonds I would have thought this was some sort of insurance scam. I mean, what sort of person puts that in the checked luggage. People who fly all know you don’t even put your mp3 player in your checked stuff let alone diamonds. Egads people are idiots.

  30. diamondmaster1 says:

    @forgottenpassword: “If I were to smuggle a lot of money out of the country, I’d convert them to diamonds & then carry them on my person when boarding a airliner.”

    See: History; Jewish exodus from pre-War Europe. How did so many Jews end up in the diamond business?

  31. clevershark says:

    If you ever need to ship diamonds through JFK, your best course of action would be to put big stickers with the words “WARNING: STOOL SAMPLES” all over the box… I think the odds of encountering a corrupt baggage handler who’s also a coprophiliac are fairly small.

  32. clevershark says:

    I see someone has beat me to the “stool samples” reference already…

  33. clevershark says:

    @Javert: “People who fly all know you don’t even put your mp3 player in your checked stuff let alone diamonds.”

    These diamonds were being shipped, they weren’t accompanying a passenger (acc. to the story). Also carrying objects that are worth more than $10,000 in an airport could result in an immediate forfeiture of those assets, which would itself result in many, many months of waiting before the goods can be recovered by their owner IF they can be recovered at all.

    Frankly I think that if you need to ship stuff between Switzerland and Brazil — or indeed any two countries that aren’t the USA — you should avoid a US stopover like the plague.

  34. vladthepaler says:

    Isn’t marking your baggage “high value” a little like putting a big sign on your front door that says “unlocked, nobody’s home”?

  35. jamar0303 says:

    Trains FTW. Never had a problem with trains compared to airplanes.

  36. quail says:

    That’s just crazy. $250K worth of diamonds isn’t that large. Whey didn’t they carry the diamonds on them during the flight? I once worked with a former VP of a Hong Kong bank. Once or twice a year it was up to him to transport money back and forth to the USA during the early 80’s. They used body belts and you’d never know he was carrying hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash.

  37. Hello_Newman says:

    I got ripped off years ago when flying and only realized it later that a lot of my stuff was missing. It’s a travesty that the cops don’t keep an undercover agent at all times as a baggage handler at all major airports. This kind of thing would be easy, and in fact I’d train undercover agents there before sending them to bust a drug ring.
    It would be perfect training, and really be high profile busts to weed out the people ripping us off. There’s a lot they could do, putting someone at a local pawn shop to check things, and it’s a fairly low risk way to train an undercover person before sending them into the lions den of an organized crime position.