LOS ANGELES — Federal authorities are searching for a flight attendant they say ran from a security screening at Los Angeles International Airport, leaving behind about 31 kilograms of cocaine stashed in her luggage.
Transportation Security Administration officers stopped the woman at random Friday, and she remained at large Monday, said Special Agent Timothy Massino with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The flight attendant was sent to a secondary screening area, but she quickly dropped her bag, ditched a pair of Gucci heels and fled barefoot downward an upward-moving escalator, said Marshall McClain, president of the union representing LAX airport police officers.
McClain said the case shows why all flight attendants and other airport employees need to be screened.
“With her bringing this amount of narcotics in the airport, chances are this wasn’t her first time through,” said McClain, head of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association.
Security threats from “insiders,” including airline and airport employees and workers hired by contractors, have been a focus of the TSA, particularly after the December 2014 arrest of several Delta Air Lines baggage handlers. Prosecutors allege they smuggled guns, including an AK-47, from Atlanta to New York.
The TSA has said that full screening of all employees would cost too much. Instead, the agency has urged airports to increase random screenings of workers and to keep background checks up to date.
“We will pay particular attention to the insider threat,” TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger told a Senate committee earlier this month.
The Associated Press