Two men have been arrested for allegedly stealing gold bars while working as cargo handlers at Los Angeles International Airport, federal prosecutors said.
Marlon Moody, 38, and Brian Benson, 35, both of Los Angeles, were taken into custody without incident on Tuesday morning by agents with the FBI. Both men were charged with conspiracy as well as theft of interstate and foreign shipment, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. It was not immediately clear whether they had obtained attorneys who could speak on their behalf.
In a federal grand jury indictment filed Tuesday, prosecutors alleged that Moody and Benson snatched the gold bars last year while they were working for Alliance Ground International, a Miami-based private company that provides airline cargo handling services at 13 airports across the country, including Los Angeles. It was unclear whether Moody and Benson were still employees of Alliance Ground International. ABC News has reached out to the company for comment.
On the evening of April 22, 2020, a shipment of 2,000 gold bars -- each weighing about 2 pounds and valued at some $56,000 a piece -- arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on a Singapore Airlines flight. The gold was being shipped by a Canadian bank from Australia to New York, with a layover in Los Angeles, according to prosecutors.
The shipment was offloaded and secured at the airline's on-site cargo warehouse, but an inventory later that night showed one box containing 25 gold bars was missing. The next morning, Moody allegedly found the lost box near the warehouse and put it on a belt loader before driving the vehicle to a nearby location where prosecutors said he took four gold bars from the box.
Benson picked up Moody in a company van and the two men exchanged text messages about the gold because other employees were with them, according to prosecutors. The pair left the airport later that day and went to a nearby parking lot where prosecutors said Moody gave Benson one of the four gold bars. The lost box with the 21 remaining gold bars was later found by other cargo handlers and authorities launched an investigation that ultimately led them to Moody and Benson.
Moody allegedly gave one gold bar to a relative and buried the other two in the backyard of his home. The FBI has since recovered all four gold bars, according to prosecutors.
Both Moody and Benson were expected to make their initial appearances at the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon. They could face up to 15 years in federal prison if convicted on all charges.