Ex-Delta Ramp Agent Admits To Smuggling Drug Money

June 01--A former Delta Air Lines employee said in federal court Friday that she used her Airport Operations Area security badge to smuggle more than a million dollars in illegal drug sale proceeds past security checkpoints at Honolulu Airport.

Sifatutupu Fuamatu, 40, pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy for her role in a drug smuggling and distribution operation that the government says distributed approximately 400 pounds of methamphetamine from October 2008 to March last year.

Fuamatu said she would carry the money in a bag past the checkpoints, walk through the back gates and hand the bag to her husband, who had gone through the checkpoints with other travelers. She said she and her husband would board an aircraft to Los Angeles, where they handed the bag to Walter Dominguez, the man accused of supplying methamphetamine to distributors in Hawaii from March 2009 to March 2012.

Fuamatu said she received the drug money from Larry Chung and Fouina Toilolo.

Federal prosecutor Jonathan Loo said Fuamatu and her husband transported $954,000 on Sept. 18, 2011, and $554,000 on Nov. 5, 2011. Loo said Fuamatu was paid $6,000 per trip for being a money courier.

Fuamatu faces a mandatory minimum 10-year and maximum life prison term at sentencing in December. Her status as a first-time offender and provisions in her plea deal make possible a sentence of less than 10 years.

Loo said John Tai, the confessed leader of the distribution portion of the operation, recruited Fuamatu, his sister, to transport the drug proceeds to Dominguez in 2009 or 2010.

In addition to being a Delta Air Lines ramp agent, Fuamatu was employed up until last year as an adult correctional officer at the Women's Community Correctional Center in Kailua.

Tai, Chung and four other defendants have also pleaded guilty to conspiracy and are awaiting sentencing.

Dominguez; Fuamatu's husband, Falefia Fuamatu; and five others are scheduled to stand trial on conspiracy charges in September.

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