Over the past few months the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has made headline after headline of both local and national news. Whether due to the harassment of travelers, the questionable health effects that could be caused by their new naked body scanners, or the fact that officers conducting extensive pat-downs rarely, if ever, change their protective gloves- a practice that can easily spread disease causing bacteria from person to person, the TSA doesnt have many fans these days. As if all that werent bad enough, a behavioral detection officer from Buffalo-Niagara International Airport has been arrested and faces federal felony charges for aiding suspected drug traffickers evade detection or bypass security screenings altogether.
Minnetta Walker, 43, was arrested around 11 a.m. on Tuesday March 8, 2011. Off duty, she was driving a vehicle owned by a suspected local drug dealer when she went to pick him up from the airport. Papers were filed in Federal court, charging Walker with the felony of conspiring to defraud the government by interfering with security measures. While not directly accused of trafficking drugs herself, she has been accused of helping alleged drug traffickers smuggle drugs and/or money through the airport.
On more than one occasion Walker drove the alleged trafficker to the airport, and even personally escorted him through security as to prevent any screenings. Even when off duty it seems that TSA screening agents rarely, if ever, question the authority of a superior officer of Walkers status. If a person is carrying a large amount of cash that is not declared, it alerts agents to notify police, who then begin an investigation. Thus, even if not carrying actual drugs, the suspicion alone is enough to prevent potential illicit activity.
Its been long known that the TSA doesnt adhere to the highest standards regarding hiring practices. Convicted felons and sexual offenders are but only a few of the backgrounds that litter your local airports security roster. It doesnt seem that farfetched to imagine higher ranked officers abusing their power, even though there havent been any official allegations about bribes.
The investigation into Walker began about 10 months ago, and she has pleaded not guilty to any charges filed.