An American Airlines mechanic who worked at JFK Airport was found guilty Tuesday of trying to smuggle over $300,000 worth of cocaine stashed in a hidden compartment under the cockpit, federal prosecutors said.
Paul Belloisi, 55, of Hicksville, was convicted by a jury on all three drug charges after being caught “red handed” during the smuggling operation, US Attorney Breon Peace said.
When American Airlines flight 1349 arrived at JFK Airport on Feb. 4, 2020 from Jamaica, the plane was selected by Customs and Border Protection for a routine search, the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York said.
During the search, officers discovered 10 bricks of cocaine that weighed more than 25 pounds hidden inside an electronics compartment on the underside of the cockpit.
The drugs were worth as much as $320,000, according to the US Attorney’s Office.
The cocaine was swapped with fake bricks by agents and sprayed with a substance that glows when a special light shines on it.
Law enforcement placed the plane under surveillance from a distance and waited, prosecutors said.
Shortly before the plane’s next expected departure, officers with CBP and Homeland Security Investigations saw Belloisi enter the electronics compartment.