A former Transportation Security Administration officer was arrested Wednesday after allegedly smuggling what he thought was meth through Los Angeles International Airport in exchange for cash.

Michael Williams, 39, of Hawthorne, is charged with one count of attempting to distribute methamphetamine, according to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Williams is expected to make his initial appearance Wednesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.  

According to an affidavit filed with a federal criminal complaint, authorities conducted undercover operations involving Williams in 2020, as they suspected he was helping smuggle narcotics past security checkpoints at LAX. 

During the operations, Williams allegedly met with a drug source to exchange meth in the days leading up to his shift at LAX, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

As a TSA employee with unscreened access to LAX, Williams agreed to deliver what he thought was meth in a backpack to the drug source’s accomplice in the men’s restroom on the secure side of the airport terminal.   

After taking possession of what he believed was real narcotics, Williams allegedly transported an unscreened package containing the fake meth beyond the TSA screening area and delivered the package to another individual, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

This individual, whom Williams did not know was a federal agent, on two occasions exchanged $4,000 in cash in the stalls of the men’s restroom in the airport’s secure area.  

Williams was observed on LAX’s security cameras exiting the restroom while wearing his TSA uniform, going to begin his shift screening passengers and luggage.  

If convicted, Williams would face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.  

The FBI, DEA and the Los Angeles HIDTA investigated this matter.