- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 31, 2008

Two U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers arrested this week at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on narcotics importation and bribery conspiracy charges are accused of helping others clear shipments of hashish, other controlled substances and counterfeit goods through customs at the airport.

CBP Supervisory Agent Walter Golembiowski, 65, of Bethpage, N.Y., and John Ajello, 51, of Hicksville, N.Y., were arrested by members of the New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force along with five others and charged with conspiring to bypass possible inspection at a container freight station by delivering contraband directly from the plane to several co-defendants.

“These arrests demonstrate the combined will of law enforcement to put an end to illicit smuggling, be it illegal narcotics or intellectual property,” said U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent-in-Charge John P. Gilbride.

“This investigation epitomizes the role of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force, which combines the resources of federal, state and local agencies involved to identify and dismantle smuggling organizations operating across international borders,” he said.

Others named in the suspected conspiracy include two customs brokers - Sharuk Sariari, 51, of Fort Lee, N.J., and Victor Juzumas, 46, of Merrick, N.Y., who are accused of using their association with Mr. Golembiowki to clear shipments of illicit cargo.

Also arrested were Sean Mills, 37, of Woodbrige, N.J., who worked as the operations manager of a cargo cooperative; and Kai Li, 28, and Wei Lam, 37, both of Fort Lee, who were described by authorities as importers of counterfeit goods and controlled substances.

Mr. Golembiowski and Mr. Ajello are accused in federal documents of accepting bribes as part of the conspiracy.

The arrests culminated an undercover investigation during which numerous meetings and phone calls were recorded and during which, authorities said, the suspected conspirators plotted to bring narcotics and other contraband - including counterfeit Rolex, Cartier and Chanel watches - into the United States through JFK.

Authorities said that on multiple occasions, Mr. Golembiowski was captured on audio and video accepting bribes to help his co-conspirators bring in illegal drugs and counterfeit goods without detection.

“Smuggling any kind of illegal commodity raises troubling issues at a time of deep concern over national security. The threat is heightened when a government official accepts bribes to help smugglers breach our borders,” said U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia in New York. “Thanks to the tireless work of our law enforcement partners, including internal investigators from DHS and ICE, these defendants will no longer be able to profit from their corruption of the public trust.”

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