3 San Francisco airport workers charged in alleged smuggling

Three security screeners at San Francisco International Airport took payoffs to wave cocaine smugglers through airport security, federal authorities say in charges against the three.

The U.S. attorney's office announced the charges of fraud and cocaine smuggling in a statement Friday.

Federal prosecutors allege security screeners Joseph Scott, Michael Castaneda, and Jessica Scott on five occasions took a fee in exchange for allowing through luggage that they were told contained cocaine. Each incident actually was an undercover sting operation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Transportation Security Administration, federal prosecutors said.

The three were responsible for running the airport electronic screening and inspecting baggage. They were employees of security subcontractor Covenant Aviation Security. The company did not immediately return a telephone call Saturday seeking comment.

Authorities released Joseph Scott and Jessica Scott on $50,000 bonds on Friday. Castaneda remains in custody pending a detention hearing Monday.

Conviction on charges of smuggling over 10 pounds of cocaine carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.