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Flight Attendant Who Ditched Cocaine and Designer Shoes Arrested in New York

The unnamed woman is accused of attempting to smuggle 68 pounds of cocaine in her luggage.
March 24, 2016, 6:45pm
Image d'illustration. Carmen Jaspersen/AP

A flight attendant who briefly went on the lam after ditching her Gucci heels and luggage stuffed with 68 pounds (about 30 kilos) of cocaine at Los Angeles International Airport was arrested in New York after surrendering to authorities on Wednesday, law enforcement officials said.

Marsha Gay Reynolds, 31, of Queens, NY, was charged in a criminal complaint filed in Los Angeles, said Special Agent Timothy Massino of the Drug Enforcement Administration. She was able to board one of her company's planes to New York City the day after authorities made the drug discovery and was taken into custody after surrendering to Drug Enforcement Administration agents at New York's John F. Kennedy airport.

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Massino declined to release further information about the case, citing an ongoing investigation.

"Our nation's security depends on every individual with security clearances to honor the trust placed in them," US Attorney Eileen M. Decker said in a statement. "The defendant's conduct violated that trust and, in the process, exposed the public to a major narcotics transaction and the dangers inherent to such a transaction."

Law enforcement officials have not said which airline employed Reynolds.

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Authorities have previously said that Reynolds fled a terminal at LAX on Friday evening when she was selected for a random screening, prompting a search that turned up the cocaine in her carry-on bags. Airport and airline staff are not routinely screened at security checks at the airport.

NBC News reported on its website that Reynolds, then unidentified, escaped from the airport on foot after making a nervous phone call in a language not recognized by officers, leaving behind a pair of designer shoes. It's not clear whether she was scheduled to board a flight or was in the process of exiting the airport after landing.

There have been numerous cases where flight attendants have been caught taking advantage of their baggage privileges by serving as drug mules. Last September, a Caribbean Airlines flight attendant was caught trying to smuggle 6.5 pounds of cocaine into South Florida from Montego Bay, Jamaica. The drugs were duct-taped to his thighs and ankles and concealed under long-legged compression pants. He admitted that he'd been paid $10,000 for the job, and was sentenced to just under three years in federal prison.

In September 2013, a JetBlue flight attendant was caught trying to smuggle more than two pounds of heroin onto a flight from Bogota to Orlando. In that case, the woman and her partner in the operation pressed the heroin into pellets meant to resemble chocolates and hid them in a bodysuit that she wore under her uniform, according to the Orlando Sentinel. She admitted that she'd been paid $10,000, and helped the feds bust her accomplice in Central Florida.

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