Customs Agent from Farmingdale Smuggled Cocaine at JFK, Feds Say

DEA photo.

A rookie U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent from Farmingdale has been accused of trying to help drug smugglers get more than 100 pounds of cocaine passed security at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

A federal grand jury indicted Fernando Marte on charges of conspiracy to import cocaine and importation of cocaine. He was arrested shortly after the incident in February—a month after he was hired—and was released on $1 million bail following his initial court appearance in Brooklyn federal court.

“Law enforcement officers who use their official positions to commit crimes pose a particularly grave threat to our communities by not only facilitating crime but by undermining respect for law enforcement,” said Bridget Rohde, acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Prosecutors said the 28-year-old federal agent was on duty at JFK when he escorted two people that had just stepped off a flight from the Domincan Republican to the baggage claim and then walked them through an inspection terminal, where 45 brick-shaped kilograms of coke were found in their two suitcases on Feb. 7.

Forty-five kilos of blow have an estimated street value of $1.5 million.

Investigators later learned that Marte previously escorted at least one other drug smuggler from the same Caribbean island nation through an inspection area at JFK.

The suspect’s employment status was not immediately clear. Marte faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and up to life imprisonment, if convicted.