Recently revealed court records tell a wide-ranging tale of alleged drug smuggling and trafficking that spans the country, but several key players are Bay Area-based, and they include a Hayward bar owner featured on the bar-makeover show Bar Rescue.
The federal indictments in this case date back to 2019, but as the Mercury News reports, some more details have emerged in recent court documents, as the various suspects have made court appearances.
Kendrick “Kew” Askew, Derrick “Trouble” Sneed, Eric Funes, Kamesha “Boobie” Miles, and Lemack “Lee” Bellot were all named in the indictment. Miles recently pleaded guilty to a marijuana distribution charge, and after being out on bail since May 2021, she received no additional jail time. Her attorney described her as a drug mule who was operating at the direction of Askew.
Bellot owns Fogline Bar & Grill in Hayward — a bar originally called Russell City Grill before a 2016 makeover by Jon Taffer and the Bar Rescue crew, a trailer for which you can see below. Bellot is the person referred to as Lee in the episode.
According to federal prosecutors, Bellot bragged to a DEA informant that he had connections with people — possibly at airports — who could help move drugs around the country, but one of his main connections got arrested.
The informant reportedly posed as an Atlanta-based drug dealer, and he cut deals at the behest of DEA agents with Askew and Bellot. This informant was allegedly directed by Askew and Bellot in November 2018 to check bags filled with drugs at SFO, which made it onto a flight without being flagged — after the informant paid a $8,500 smuggling fee, some of which allegedly went to corrupt airport employees.
This same informant was reportedly stopped by TSA agents trying to board a flight carrying sham cocaine, and DEA agents had to step in to prevent the informant's cover from being blown.
The informant alleges that Bellot said, "I had a connect. I’d run 10 bricks to Philly, 10 bricks to Ohio, and 10 bricks of china white to Miami, I used but my boy got popped. But I did find someone else recently."
Per the Mercury News, Bellot's case appears to be headed for trial, and Bellot's attorneys may be planning to argue that he was entrapped by the DEA.
Also involved in the smuggling ring were individuals in New Orleans, according to prosecutors. A June 2018 indictment named 14 individuals, some of them based in the Bay Area, who were accused of running drugs from California through Louis Armstrong International Airport.
Union City resident James Hawkins was identified by prosecutors as one corrupt airline employee involved in the smuggling ring. Hawkins was named in the New Orleans indictment, and he apparently admitted to investigators that he provided "buddy passes" to smugglers.
Other California defendants in the New Orleans case were Esam Ghalid, 46, of Stockton; Sarah Abd-Elaziz, 30, of Oakland; Kayla Johnson, 23, of Oakland; Safiya Zina, 39, of Antioch; Yonston Vazquez, 24, of Oakland; and Tommy Bardwell, 41, of Stockton.
The cases harken back to a pair of local drug busts in 2015, one at SFO and one at Oakland Airport. The SFO case involved TSA agents who were accused of helping a meth-smuggling operation. The Oakland case, in May 2015, involved pot smuggling and Southwest baggage handlers at Oakland Airport who used their badges to carry bags around security checkpoints and put them on planes.