The hits keep coming for the TSA. On Sunday box cutters were found aboard an international flight leaving JFK and then, on Tuesday, a 43-year-old TSA behavioral detection officer named Minnetta Walker was arrested and charged with helping a suspected drug dealer evade security.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Buffalo, Walker is being charged with conspiring to defraud the United States by interfering with and obstructing security measures, procedures and requirements at Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Also? She's facing charges of "aiding and abetting another individual in entering an aircraft and airport area in violation of federal security requirements." Outside of court yesterday Walker's lawyer insisted his client is innocent. "At this point we are completely denying that she did anything wrong," the lawyer told WKBW.
Walker had been working for the TSA for nine years—as part of her job she was trained to "observe and analyze human behavior" and had unrestricted access around the airport—and has reportedly been under investigation since July 2010 when she came up while investigators were "monitoring the movements and cell phone calls of suspected drug dealers." What exactly they were monitoring is unclear, as the TSA tells us they do "not comment on ongoing investigations."
Also charged yesterday was Derek Frank, of Amherst, who is one of the suspected dealers Walker was helping. He is currently being held pending his next court appearance while Walker is free on her own recognizance.
Meanwhile, these two cases aren't even the only slams on the TSA this week. A hefty investigation of TSA employees in Hawaii is currently underway that implicates at least 27 workers who were not properly screening checked bags for explosives (or anything else). This one the TSA would comment on, telling KITV:
We took immediate action and none of the personnel accused have been conducting screening duties since the allegations were made. TSA is proud to hold our workforce to the highest ethical standards and will not tolerate a deviation from the commitment to carry out our mission to protect the traveling public.