The baggage ground crew regularly ran bricks of cocaine from Barbados, hidden in special compartments by confederates in Bermuda. They would bribe the crew scheduler to assure members of the gang were assigned to the unload team. The crew asserted that federal inspectors often remained in their vehicles during the transfers, esp if there was rain or cold weather. If the inspectors were out and about, the crew let the drugs go on with the aircraft, as they followed its travels around the system.
The participants were paid about $4,000 each per transfer. The article notes that many supplemented their drug revenue with cameras, perfume, and clothing from baggage as it passed through.
In 2009, the last year for which there is complete data, the Transportation Security Administration received about 6,750 reports of property missing from checked baggage. Passengers reported the total value of their losses as nearly $5.3 million. Clothing was reported most often as missing. Digital cameras also disappeared with some frequency.
From 2002 to 2010, American Airlines generated more such reports than any other airline.