In Yannick Mai’s plan, he, his daughter and her friend would enter the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX in June 2017, sail through TSA security with functioning body scanners, board an Air France flight to Tahiti, land and sell eight pounds of methamphetamine they had strapped to their groins or hidden in luggage.
But TSA agents at a checkpoint saw what they described as a scanner “anomaly” in the 57-year-old’s crotch and conducted a pat-down search.
That discovery prompted agents to remove Mai’s daughter, Tehea Mai and her friend, Ghislaine Taoahere Coupel-Germain, who’d already boarded the plane.
Searches of their bodies and backpacks also found drugs wrapped in packages.
The meth was apparently purchased at an Orange County Days Inn Hotel in Buena Park near Knott’s Berry Farm the day before the flight, according to a U.S. Department of Homeland Security report.
During an interrogation, the elder Mai—who worked at a tour guide—claimed a man in Tahiti named “El Chapo” told him to smuggle “ice,” or meth, into that island in exchange for $20,000.
Federal prosecutors eventually won guilty pleas from the three defendants.
The U.S. Probation Office argued that Mai deserved a 120-month prison sentence while prosecutors determined an 87-month punishment was adequate. But this month, U.S. District Court Judge Andre Birotte Jr. issued a 37-month term.
His daughter, who was born in 1994, and her friend, who arrived on the planet in 1981, had previously received punishments of 21 months each.
CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; obtained one of the last exclusive prison interviews with Charles Manson disciple Susan Atkins; won inclusion in Jeffrey Toobin’s The Best American Crime Reporting for his coverage of a white supremacist’s senseless murder of a beloved Vietnamese refugee; launched multi-year probes that resulted in the FBI arrests and convictions of the top three ranking members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department; and gained praise from New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing entrenched Southern California law enforcement corruption.