Ex-baggage handler gets 11 years for drug smuggling

A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced a former airline employee to 11 years in prison for smuggling hundreds of thousands of dollars in cocaine and marijuana through checked luggage at Philadelphia International Airport.

James Mickens, 30, of Philadelphia, smuggled drugs through the airport from February 2010 until July 2011 while he worked as a baggage handler for US Airways.

Prosecutors said he was a participant in a large-scale drug operation. He made multiple trips to Los Angeles, where kilograms of cocaine and marijuana were purchased and then transported back to Philadelphia in checked luggage.

The initial 2012 indictment charging Mickens and others described a June 2010 trip he and another man allegedly took to Los Angeles to purchase 11 kilograms of cocaine for $263,000.

U.S. District Judge Gene E.K. Pratter also sentenced Mickens, who pleaded guilty in February, to five years of supervised release.