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Officer's 'Great Observation' Nets Large Drug Find

Monday, March 16, 2009

By Nico Melendez, Office of Strategic Communications/Public Affairs

Law enforcement officials are calling a TSO's recent discovery at California's John Wayne Airport one of the "largest finds." It was more than four pounds of cocaine, with an estimated street value of $60,000.

After a passenger wearing baggy clothing cleared the walk-through metal detector, TSO Roland Martinez directed the man to secondary screening. As Martinez performed a bulk item pat-down, he felt a "large object in the upper inner thigh area," according to the incident report.

The man was escorted to a private screening area where Supervisory TSO Pedro Lopez, joined by officers with the Orange County Sheriff's Department, removed the two packages of drugs.

Paul Francis Smith, San Jose, Calif., was arrested and charged with possession with intent to sell.

"It was a great observation on the part of the TSA officer," said Sheriff's Department spokesman Jim Amormino. "It's one of the largest finds at John Wayne."

Two bags of cocaine were seized – one weighed 2 pounds, 12 ounces, the other 1 pound, 8 ounces. Two bags of cocaine were seized – one weighed 2 pounds, 12 ounces, the other 1 pound, 8 ounces.
Photo courtesy of TSA John Wayne