News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. May 10, 2024: Federal authorities says four flight attendants exploited their privileges as airline personnel to transport millions of dollars in drug proceeds from New York City to the Dominican Republic.


According to Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Ivan J. Arvelo, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations, the suspects took advantage of their access to the “Known Crewmember (KCM)” lane at John F. Kennedy International Airport, circumventing standard security measures and inspection protocols.

A Homeland Security Investigations special agent highlighted the lax security procedures associated with KCM privileges, noting that flight attendants could transport significant amounts of cash without detection.

The individuals facing charges are Charlie Hernandez, 42; Sarah Valerio Pujols, 24; Emmanuel Torres, 34; and Jarol Fabio, 35. They stand accused of engaging in unlicensed money transmission activities and were apprehended on Tuesday.

Hernandez resides in West New York, New Jersey, while the remaining defendants are residents of New York City.

Prosecutors allege that the group collectively smuggled approximately $8 million in bulk cash to the Dominican Republic over several years, purportedly including funds derived from drug trafficking.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams emphasized the serious nature of the allegations, stating that the flight attendants abused their status to facilitate the illegal transfer of illicit funds.

An informant provided Hernandez with $121,215, sourced from narcotics trafficking, a portion of which he allegedly passed on to Pujols for transport to the Dominican Republic in December 2019.

Delta Airlines confirmed that two of the defendants are employees, asserting their cooperation with law enforcement in the ongoing investigation.

While Pujols has been released from custody, her attorney declined to provide further comments. No immediate responses were available from Fabio’s legal representation, and court records did not list attorneys for Hernandez and Torres at the time of reporting.

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