LI man, who worked as American Airlines mechanic at JFK, arraigned on drug smuggling charges

David Caplan
July 06, 2020 - 1:40 pm

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- A Long Island man who worked as an American Airlines mechanic at JFK Airport was arraigned Monday for being the "inside man" of a cocaine smuggling ring that involved removal of the drug in an external compartment of an aircraft arriving from Jamaica, the the United States Attorney's Office of the Eastern District of New York announced.

Paul Belloisi, 52, of Hicksville, N.Y., was arraigned on an indictment charging him with conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute, conspiracy to import cocaine and importation of cocaine. He was arraigned via teleconference before United States Chief Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak  Belloisi was arrested on Feb. 5 and released on a $300,000 bond and indicted by a grand jury in Central Islip on June 18.

"On February 4, 2020, shortly after American Airlines flight 1349 arrived at JFK Terminal 8 from Montego Bay, Jamaica, a routine search by CBP officers who are members of the JFK Anti-Terrorism Contraband Enforcement Team revealed approximately 11.594 kilograms (25.56 pounds) of cocaine bricks concealed behind an insulation blanket in an external mechanical compartment beneath the aircraft," the Eastern District said in the release.

"CBP officers and HSI special agents then began visual surveillance of the aircraft from a distance," the release continued. "Shortly before the aircraft was scheduled to depart, Belloisi was observed approaching the aircraft and entering the compartment where the cocaine had been hidden. The officers confronted Belloisi after he exited the compartment and observed evidence that Belloisi had handled the area where the cocaine bricks were discovered.  Belloisi also had carried an empty tool bag to the aircraft and had cutouts in the lining of his jacket, which together were sufficiently large to hold the bricks of cocaine that had been in the compartment."

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said "As alleged, this airline mechanic abused his position as a trusted employee and his access to sensitive areas of JFK Airport to participate in the clandestine importation of cocaine."

HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Peter Fitzhugh, echoed Donoghue's sentiments, saying, "As alleged, Belloisi was the ‘inside man’, moving more than 25 pounds of cocaine from Jamaica to New York,” stated “HSI and CBP’s joint efforts continue to stem these threats to our aviation industry by which perpetuate the international movement of contraband through our airports.  HSI will continue to persistently investigate and dismantle these criminal enterprises working with our law enforcement and airline partners.”

If convicted, Belloisi faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.