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LAX cargo handlers charged with pilfering gold bars from $112M shipment

Brink’s armored transport company lost track of box in large shipment that arrived on Singapore Airlines flight

Warehouse workers conspired to steal gold bars transiting Los Angeles International Airport, the U.S. Justice Department alleges. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Two employees of cargo handling company Alliance Ground International who worked at Los Angeles International Airport were arrested Tuesday morning on charges of stealing four gold bars that were part of a larger shipment going from Australia to New York.

Marlon Moody, 38, and Brian Benson, 35, both of South Los Angeles, were arrested by FBI agents and indicted on two counts of conspiracy and theft of interstate and foreign shipments, according to an announcement from the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California. Alliance Ground International said in a statement to FreightWaves that one of its crews discovered the stolen cargo and supervisors reported  it to Los Angeles Airport Police. 

The Justice Department alleges the men took four gold bars from a shipment of 2,000 gold bars that arrived April 22 on a Singapore Airlines flight. The 1-kilogram bars were being shipped for Toronto Dominion Bank and were valued at a total of $112 million — or $56,000 each.

The gold bars were packed in 80 boxes and placed in multiple shipping containers. During a layover at LAX, the gold was offloaded by Alliance adjacent to the Singapore Airlines Cargo warehouse and handed over to Brink’s Global Services (NYSE: BCO) on the tarmac. The armored car company moved the large shipment to a  temporary holding location outside the airport. An inventory that evening reportedly showed one box containing 25 gold bars was missing, according to the indictment and an airport source familiar with the investigation.

The source said Brink’s apparently miscounted the number of boxes when accepting the shipment. 

“We don’t know how the box ended up away from the rest of the shipment,” Thom Mrozek, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said. 

A message left with Brink’s was not returned before publication.

The indictment alleges that Moody found the missing box of gold bars near the Singapore Airlines cargo warehouse the following morning, placed it on a belt loader and drove the vehicle to a spot near the Korean Air cargo warehouse, where he removed four of the bars and hid them in his safety vest. Benson arrived to pick up Moody in a company van, during which time they reportedly exchanged text messages about the gold bars because other employees were in the van.

During the text exchange, Benson wrote, “That’s big $ lol” and “I need to take a closer look.”

He then drove the van to the Polar Air Cargo warehouse, which was operated at the time by Alliance Ground International. Moody and Benson, who were assigned to support the Singapore Airlines operation, then met for several minutes inside the Polar Air restroom. The two defendants later left the airport and went to a nearby parking lot, where Moody gave Benson one of the gold bars, the indictment said. 

The lost box with the 21 remaining gold bars was discovered by other warehouse workers later in the day and authorities began an investigation. 

Moody gave one gold bar to a relative “and directed the family member to exchange the gold bar for a vehicle and/or money,” according to the indictment. He then allegedly buried the remaining two gold bars in the backyard of his residence.

The FBI recovered all four gold bars about two weeks after they went missing from LAX.

Alliance said it immediately terminated the employees.

The defendants each face a maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison if convicted.

Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.


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Eric Kulisch

Eric is the Supply Chain and Air Cargo Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government coverage and news analysis, and was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. Eric is based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached for comments and tips at [email protected]