April 24, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Man sentenced to federal prison for smuggling drugs at LAX

Backpacks of drugs were carried through an employee entrance at Los Angeles International Airport and onto eastbound flights.  (Thinkstock)
Backpacks of drugs were carried through an employee entrance at LAX and onto eastbound flights. (Thinkstock)

A Torrance man was sentenced Thursday to three months in federal prison for participating in a smuggling scheme in which backpacks of drugs were carried through an employee entrance at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and onto eastbound flights.

Peter Contreras — the last of three men to be sentenced in the case — was also ordered to complete three years of supervised release following his prison term.

Contreras had faced up to five years behind bars, but U.S. District Judge Fernando M. Olguin found him less culpable than the co-defendants and gave him a reduced sentence for having played a “minor role” in the drug smuggling conspiracy.

The judge also apparently accepted defense arguments that Contreras had permanently changed and was “desperately seeking a second chance.”

Defense attorney Edward M. Robinson wrote that his client now “wants to provide the care and stability to his young children that he never received. At the same time, Mr. Contreras continues to support his mentally ill mother and care for his 11-year-old brother.”

U.S. Assistant Attorney Jennifer Williams said outside court that while it was clear that Contreras had taken “strides to rehabilitate himself, this type of crime is extremely dangerous.”

Contreras, now 27, and a co-conspirator met in May 2013 with a man they thought was a drug distributor — he was actually an undercover agent — who told them he was seeking to send about 11 pounds of cocaine to Boston.

The undercover officer paid Contreras $5,000 to transport a backpack containing what the defendant thought was five bricks of cocaine, but was actually a sham substance, to Boston aboard a Delta flight.

The following day, Ruben Mendoza — one of two ex-Delta baggage handlers convicted in the case — brought the backpack through an LAX employee entrance to avoid security screening.

Mendoza, while working as a baggage handler, then placed the backpack into a checked suitcase for the flight to Boston.

Mendoza, of Rialto, pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge and was sentenced last year to 27 months in prison.

The second ex-Delta baggage handler, Ulysses Bluntson, of Los Angeles, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy and was sentenced in 2013 to a year behind bars.

Bluntson told investigators that he was paid $1,000 per bag and that he handled up to a dozen bags without being detected.

Contreras pleaded guilty a year ago to attempted distribution of a controlled substance.

A federal grand jury indictment charged Contreras, Bluntson and Mendoza with six felony counts, including conspiracy to distribute illegal drugs, conspiracy to enter restricted airport areas, distribution of heroin, and aiding and abetting.

in News
Related Posts

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass Reveals Budget Proposal for Upcoming Year

April 23, 2024

April 23, 2024

Mayor Bass’s Plan Prioritizes Housing, Safety, and Accountability Mayor Karen Bass unveiled her proposed budget on Monday, outlining her vision...

Supreme Court Debates Legality of Ticketing Homeless Individuals, Hears Grants Pass Case

April 22, 2024

April 22, 2024

Landmark Case Raises Questions of Cruel and Unusual Punishment The Supreme Court engaged in a lengthy debate on Monday, lasting...

Taste of the Nation Returns to Culver City: Culinary Event Devoted to Fighting Childhood Hunger

April 22, 2024

April 22, 2024

Top Chefs and Tastemakers Join Together May 4th for No Kid Hungry’s Charity Event Taste of the Nation for No...

Extremist’s Arsenal: Felon’s Hate-Fueled Weapons Cache Leads to Federal Time

April 22, 2024

April 22, 2024

Man Was Part of a Hate Group, Posted Calls for Genocide and Racist Remarks Ryan Scott Bradford, a 35-year-old man...

(Video) Ariana Madix Confirms Something About Her Will Open Soon at LA Times Festival of Books

April 22, 2024

April 22, 2024

Ariana Madix answers the questions that fans want to ask at the Festival of Books as she appears to support...

Comedian Michelle Collins Brings her Big Natural Tour to LA

April 21, 2024

April 21, 2024

She’s funny, tall, glam and finally long-legging her way across these United States… it’s the Michelle Collins stand-up comedy tour...

Former CBS CEO Admits Role in Disclosure of Confidential Police Information

April 21, 2024

April 21, 2024

Leslie Moonves Fined for Aiding Misuse of Confidential Data in LAPD Complaint Former CBS CEO Leslie Moonves has acknowledged his...

Los Angeles Police Department Reveals Identity of Victim Found in Stolen U-Haul Truck in West Adams

April 21, 2024

April 21, 2024

Body Found in Rental Vehicle Was Shot in the Head, LAPD Seeks Information Detectives from the West Bureau Homicide Division...

Outrage Erupts Over Demolition of Iconic Midcentury Craig Ellwood Home in Brentwood

April 21, 2024

April 21, 2024

Destruction of Zimmerman House Creates Internet Backlash Preservationists lamented last year when another treasure of L.A.’s midcentury modern architecture vanished,...

Make Science Your Destination This Summer

April 19, 2024

April 19, 2024

Destination Science is the fun science day camp for curious kids with over 15 STEM activities weekly, three science stations...

Prime Time Sports Camps Coming Soon

April 19, 2024

April 19, 2024

Prime Time Sports Camp has remained a constant in the everchanging camp landscape for over 30 years by following this...

Groundlings Summer Improv Classes Open April 2

April 19, 2024

April 19, 2024

A summer of improvisation is around the corner at The Groundlings.  Three months of summer class offerings for teens will...

Coming to Venice for 4/20? Visit your original cannabis locals! Specials! Live entertainment @4:20pm  Doors open at 10am!!

April 19, 2024

April 19, 2024

Coming to Venice for 4/20? Visit your original cannabis locals! Specials! Live entertainment @4:20pm Doors open at 10am!! Free goodies!!...

Venice Kush Hosts “The Real Deal” Cannabis Celebration at the Beach

April 19, 2024

April 19, 2024

A Day of Education, Innovation, and Community at Venice Beach Venice Kush is gearing up to host its much-anticipated “The...

Get Jokerfied with The People’s Joker Director Vera Drew Interview; Now Playing at the Nuart Theatre

April 19, 2024

April 19, 2024

Vera Drew on Crafting a Trans Supervillain and Creating Comedy Chaos By Dolores Quintana The People’s Joker is an explosive...