A Hawthorne man who worked as a Transportation Security Officer at Los Angeles International Airport was sentenced to almost six years in federal prison for smuggling what he thought was methamphetamine through airport security.

Michael Williams, 39, was the subject of an undercover operation in 2020, and on June 10, he pleaded guilty to attempted distribution of methamphetamine.

TSA officers have unscreened access to LAX, and Williams used that ability to meet with a “drug source” several times to discuss his carrying of meth into the airport in exchange for $8,000, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release.

After entering the airport, Williams twice met who he thought was accomplice (it was actually an undercover federal agent) in the bathroom beyond the security screening area to hand off the backpack containing fake drugs. On both occasions, he received $4,000 in cash from the agent.

“It is critical to national security that the government agents who are charged with keeping our nation safe do not sell their access to criminals,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.