A former Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer was sentenced to 70 months in federal prison for smuggling what he believed was methamphetamine through Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in exchange for a total of $8,000 in cash. 

Michael Williams, 39, of Hawthorne, was sentenced by United States District Judge Fernando L. Aenlle-Rocha.

Williams pleaded guilty on June 10 to one count of attempted distribution of methamphetamine.

In 2020, authorities conducted undercover operations involving Williams, whom they suspected of helping smuggle narcotics past security checkpoints at LAX.  During the operations, Williams met several times with a drug source to receive what he thought was methamphetamine.

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 past the airport terminal’s security checkpoint.

After taking possession of what he believed was real narcotics, Williams 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.

“It is critical to national security that the government agents who are charged with keeping our nation safe do not sell their access to criminals,” prosecutors argued in a sentencing memorandum.

The FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration investigated this matter as part of the Los Angeles High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program.

Assistant United States Attorneys Jeffrey M. Chemerinsky and Jeremiah Levine of the Violent and Organized Crime Section prosecuted this case

Ciaran McEvoy, Public Information Officer U.S. Attorney’s Office