Five airline employees were charged Thursday in a sting operation with using their security clearances to secretly smuggle more than $400,000 in cash through Boston’s Logan Airport.

Four ground operations crew members of JetBlue Airways and one Delta Air Lines customer service ramp agent were arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the Transportation Security Administration.

Federal prosecutors said they used their security clearance to circumvent TSA checkpoints and smuggle cash to secure areas such as passenger departure gates. In return, each allegedly received a payment from a cooperating witness who posed as a member of a drug-trafficking organization while working with law enforcement.

“Security at our nation’s airports is paramount and the conduct alleged today is alarming,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz. “Thanks to the hard work and commitment of the federal and state investigators and airline security personnel, a potentially dangerous breach in security was identified.”

Prosecutors identified the JetBlue employees as: Rupert Crossley, 25, of Lynn; Alvin Leacock, 27, of Hollywood, Florida; Eric Vick, 24, of Boston; and Anthony Trotman, 24, of Boston. The Delta employee was identified as Dino Dunkley, 31, of Boston. Vick and Dunkley are accused of taking the smuggled cash aboard airline flights from Boston to Florida.

Trotman’s attorney, Keith Halpern, said his client will plead not guilty.

“This is a case where the government created a crime, where they sent someone who was working for the government out with huge amounts of cash to see if they could entice people to do illegal activities,” Halpern said.

Vick’s attorney Ed Hayden said his client also is pleading not guilty. “We intend to investigate the government’s role in instigating the offenses,” Hayden said.

Attorneys for the other men did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

They made their initial court appearance Thursday and were ordered held until a detention hearing next week. If convicted, each faces up to 20 years in prison.

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