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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
January 12, 2004

Cash Smuggling Case at O'Hare Airport
Ex-Royal Jordanian Airlines Mgr. Sentenced

JAN 12—CHICAGO, IL - Another chapter was closed late last week in an illicit cash smuggling scheme as a former assistant station manager for Royal Jordanian Airlines at O'Hare International Airport was sentenced to 41 months prison on currency charges. Adnan Aldarawsheh, of Willow Springs, Illinois, a naturalized citizen from Jordan, was sentenced for being part of an illegal drug ring and using his position with the airline to help smuggle United States currency abroad. The over 1.5 million dollars seized in the case consisted of profits for transporting and supplying the drug pseudoephedrine into the United States as a precursor in the manufacturing of the illegal drug methamphetamine, commonly known as "crystal meth" or "crank."

Aldarawsheh and his co-conspirator, Mazen Abdallah, also a naturalized citizen from Jordan, were charged in Federal court with violating U.S. currency laws as Customs Inspectors at O'Hare Airport seized $651,817 in undeclared cash from Abdallah in January 2002. Abdallah attempted to leave the U.S. on an international flight with the seized cash but failed to declare it to border inspectors. Federal law requires that anyone traveling into or out of the United States with more that $10,000 in currency or monetary instruments must declare such funds to border inspectors through a declaration known as a Currency and Monetary Instruments Report. Abdallah is scheduled for sentencing within the next few months.

An investigation of Abdallah led agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the FBI and the DEA to a larger case revealed the source of the currency as Jubran Dighlawi. Dighlawi, a resident of California, was operating a large-scale pseudoephedrine-trafficking operation. The pseudoephedrine was smuggled into the United States from Canada, stored in Detroit and Chicago, and later transported to the West Coast. Dighlawi and others then sold the pseudoephedrine to Mexican drug traffickers for use in manufacturing the illegal drug methamphetamine. Proceeds from the sale of the pseudoephedrine were then returned to Chicago area operatives, where Aldarawsheh, using his position as an airline employee, helped smuggle the cash outside of the United States. One method used to smuggle the cash was to stuff it in empty cereal boxes that were packed in Abadallah's suitcase.

"This investigation showed exemplary coordination between the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration," said DEA's Associate Special Agent in Charge William J. Segarra. "The money seized by ICE at O'Hare Airport assisted the overall investigation into methamphetamine traffickers operating in California Superlabs."

Aldarawsheh and Abdallah both pleaded guilty in October to one count each of violating Title 18 United States Code, Section 371 (Conspiracy), Title 31 United States Code, Section 5316 (Currency and Monetary Instrument Reporting Requirements), and Title 31 United States Code, Section 5332 (Bulk Currency Smuggling). United States Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of the Northern District of Illinois prosecuted the case.

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