NEW YORK, USA — A United States federal judge Tuesday imposed three life sentences and 35 years in jail on a Barbadian-born ex-airline baggage handler for masterminding an international drug-trafficking ring.
US District Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis in sentencing former American Airlines baggage handler, Victor Bourne, 37, said he jeopardised the safety of passengers, because drugs were stored in areas that could have impacted flight equipment.
“The need to protect the public from these kinds of dangers requires a long sentence,” said the judge before imposing the stiff sentence, adding that Bourne acts were “placing hundreds of passengers’ lives at risk.
“The defendant repeated and brazenly lied,” he said.
Prosecutors said Bourne had smuggled cocaine and other illicit drugs in cargo holds and internal walls of American Airlines’ jets entering and leaving John F Kennedy International Airport in New York.
In one case, prosecutors said Bourne’s drug ring disassembled a jet’s wing to hide narcotics inside.
Judge Garaufis said Bourne and his ring preyed upon drug addicts.
“You personally exacerbated one of this nation's greatest blights,” he told Bourne during sentencing. “Your wide-ranging and long standing narcotics scheme has polluted this [judicial] district, this state, and this country.”
Prosecutors said Bourne’s mother, Maria Alleyne, 52, who was in the vestibule of the courthouse, but not in the courtroom during sentencing, had gone to Africa, before trial to hire a witch doctor to put a curse on them.
Bourne’s lawyers plan to appeal the sentence, claiming that the evidence against their client is weak.