A Jet Blue Flight Attendant was literally on a drug run last week where she was caught up in a random baggage check when all of a sudden she kicked off her shoes, fled the terminal and disappeared.
Airline staff, just as passengers, go through random additional security screenings in the process of catching their flight. It appears such a random check threw the woman off her game plan for that day.
The case had been published widely for the last week but the identity of the woman was unclear. In the meanwhile however it was possible for authorities to identify the suspect as a 31 year old female Jet Blue flight attendant living in New York where she was arrested yesterday.
The LA Times reported about it (access their latest piece here).
Less than a day after she dropped a bag loaded with cocaine at a security checkpoint and sprinted out of Los Angeles International Airport, a JetBlue flight attendant managed to board one of her company’s planes and travel to New York City, a law enforcement source told the Los Angeles Times.
Marsha Gay Reynolds, 31, of Queens, N.Y., was taken into custody in New York on Wednesday and charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, federal authorities said. …
Reynolds fled from LAX on Friday night after she was randomly selected for a security screening, the complaint said. Despite the near arrest, Reynolds may have worked as an attendant on the Saturday flight to New York, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the source was not authorized to discuss details of the case.
Investigators had yet to identify Reynolds on Saturday, so it is unlikely she raised any alarms when passing through airport security the next day, the source said. It was not clear what airport she flew out of on Saturday. …
Reynolds arrived at LAX’s Terminal 4 around 7 p.m. Friday and provided her badge to a Transportation Security Administration officer, according to the complaint. The officer confirmed that she was a pre-screened crew member when the scanner randomly selected her for additional security screening. Airport and airline staff aren’t subject to routine security checks at LAX.
Airports who have privileges for flight crews and ground staff that allow them to circumvent security checks are a ticking time bomb and it’s about time that this issue is being moved into the spotlight. It makes zero sense to allow fast food outlet workers on minimum wage to use a bypass door into the sterile area even if they passed a superficial background check. Everyone can be blackmailed and I also dare to say that everyone has a price to smuggle illicit items into sensitive areas especially if the risk is almost zero.
How did this story go down? It’s almost unbelievable.
Reynolds became nervous and made a phone call, talking to someone in a foreign language as she was escorted to a second checkpoint, the complaint said.
As they approached the checkpoint, Reynolds began to walk farther behind the security officer. When they arrived at the screening area, Reynolds dropped her luggage, kicked off her heels and sprinted away from the area, according to the complaint. She barreled down an escalator the wrong way, exited the terminal and kept racing toward Terminal 5, the complaint said.
Security officers did not pursue Reynolds because they were concerned that the abandoned luggage might contain explosives, the complaint said. After bomb-sniffing dogs confirmed that the bags did not contain explosives, Los Angeles Airport police officers discovered 68.49 pounds of cocaine wrapped in 11 separate packages inside the abandoned luggage, the document alleged.
Let’s face the reality: Any real law enforcement officer would have pursued the woman and likely caught her, if not alone then with the help of colleagues that were immediately alerted. This once again shows that the TSA is nothing but a useless and ineffective waterhead wasting money. The record of training, staff quality and effectiveness to protect the public is horrific. What if this person really was a terrorist? Because the bag might contain explosives it’s better not to follow the suspect? This modus operandi calls for an investigation. It’s outrageous!
Marshall McClain, president of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Assn., said this week that the incident highlights the need for airline staff members to be subject to the same scrutiny as other passengers traveling through LAX.
McClain also said it was unlikely that Friday marked Reynolds’ first attempt to exploit her security clearance.
“I don’t believe anybody would trust a mule with that amount of dope the first time out,” he told The Times. “You’re talking about $2 million worth of cocaine…. That’s pretty troubling. This is more than likely not her first time doing this.”
The drugs likely come into California through the Mexican border and then whoever belongs to the drug ring hands a portion of it over to a courier to transport it domestically all over the country. What would be better than a flight attendant? Low pay, easy access, no security check, permanent flights and superficial background checks make the perfect mule.
With the tragic events in Brussels this week it shines a light on all these preferential security benefits for airport staff and crew that simply HAVE to go away. Drugs are bad enough but it could have just as well been explosives or whatever.
The other issue concerns the procedure how these checkpoints are being handled. The ‘blue shirts’ can play tough when taking a water bottle away from a 65 year old but as soon as something gets hairy the truth comes to light that they are not worthy of a uniform because not only does the TSA miss way beyond 90% of illicit items at the checkpoint but there is also no structure to really protect anyone. Any rookie police officer would have handled this in a professional manner.