Pop quiz: What’s the best thing about air travel? A) The little bags of pretzels. B) Those adorably compact bottles of liquor. C) Hangin’ out with the ever-amiable folks of the TSA. D) The possibility that you’ll fall in love with your seatmate.
Obviously, the only acceptable answer here is B. And a gaggle of workers at New York’s Kennedy International Airport seem to agree. In fact, they love the little bottles so much that they allegedly stole more than 100,000 of them.
On Wednesday, 18 workers were arrested for stealing the miniatures from LSG Sky Chefs, the company that provides food and beverages for American Airlines, CNN reports. The majority of those accused were LSG employees, but three were airport security guards. The arrests culminate a nine-month investigation known as “Operation Last Call” carried out by the Port Authority’s Office of Inspector General.
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Here’s how the whole scheme went down. At the end of every American Airlines flight, workers are supposed to return any unused bottles to a storage facility. Instead, workers began stashing the bottles to sell them to local liquor stores and bodegas. But how did they repeatedly smuggle the stolen goods out of the airport? That’s where the aforementioned security guards came in — they reportedly accepted bribes to overlook the thefts.
Over the course of several months, these pilfered bottles yielded an estimated value of $750,000, CNN reports. At the center of the plot is retired LSG Sky Chefs employee Domingo Duran, who now faces 15 years in prison for grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. Law enforcement officials raided his Queens home this week, finding more than 50,000 of the 1- to 2-ounce bottles and $34,000 in cash.
Fourteen of Duran’s fellow defendants are current or former truck drivers who were responsible for loading and unloading cargo from incoming flights. All of the 18 total employees accused face between seven and 15 years in prison.
NewsFeed apologizes if your perception of these cute miniature booze vessels has been sullied upon learning of this sordid saga. It’s okay to continue loving them, and it’s okay to hold them in your hand and pretend you’re a giant. But if you find them on sale in a Queens bodega anytime soon, you might want to resist the urge to buy them.