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Three TSA agents arrested over interstate drug ring

First Posted: 09/13/11 06:15 PM ET Updated: 11/13/11 05:12 AM ET

CONWAY, Mass (Reuters) - Three Transportation Security Administration employees, a police officer and a state trooper were among 20 people arrested and accused of running an interstate prescription drug ring, officials said on Tuesday.

The ring was accused of shipping the drug oxycodone to New York and Connecticut from Florida and relaying the cash proceeds back to Florida, said Tom Carson, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Connecticut.

Demand for the powerful pain reliever has grown to epidemic proportions in parts of the United States, where dealers can sell a 30-milligram oxycodone pill on the street for $10 to $30 or more, authorities said.

One unidentified suspect, who became a cooperating witness in the case, traveled on commercial flights from Florida to New York more than 65 times, sometimes carrying thousands of pills, between November 2010 and April 2011 when he was arrested, prosecutors said.

Suspects Christopher Allen and John Best were TSA agents assigned to the Palm Beach International Airport in Florida, and the third accused TSA agent, Brigitte Jones, worked at Westchester County Airport in New York, authorities said.

Also charged were Michael Brady, a police officer with the Department of Public Safety in Westchester County, New York, and Florida State Highway Patrol Trooper Justin Kolves, prosecutors said in court documents.

"In these times, no one needs to be reminded about how dangerous it is when officers who have sworn to uphold the law accept money to look the other way," Connecticut U.S. Attorney David Fein said in a statement.

The remaining suspects were civilians who acted mainly as dealers or couriers, prosecutors said.

(Reporting by Zach Howard, editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Cynthia Johnston)

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