Fifteen food service workers and three security guards were taken into custody.
The mission to bust them was called Operation Last Call, and it exposed a serious lapse in security at the airport. All the suspects had access to the tarmacs and to the planes.
The suspectss are alleged to have worked together for years in a liquor smuggling ring that stole $20 million in alcohol from American Airline planes at JFK.
The Port Authority Inspector General says a former Sky Chef worker was the head of the operation, storing tens of thousands of the stolen mini bottles of alcohol in his house before selling them to bodegas.
Perhaps most disturbing is the arrest of three private security guards who controlled access to the planes, but allegedly sold out their trust and looked the other way in exchange for some of the stolen liquor.
The IG's office says Sky Chef food service workers swiped 7,500 bottles off American Airlines planes daily. That 18 JFK security-vetted workers are now under arrest raises serious questions about what else workers might be smuggling off, or more worrisome, on to planes.
American Airlines said in a statement that they are working closely with authorities in this ongoing investigation.
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