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American flight attendant arrested in Buenos Aires
A 58-year-old flight attendant has been arrested in Buenos Aires for attempted smuggling. Laura Diana Schulz, who is a purser for American Airlines, and has worked for the company for 28 years, attempted to export quite a few things out of Argentina. This incident occurred on AA900 from Buenos Aires to Miami on September 23, 2021, but has only been made public in the past few days.
While placing her belongings on the airport x-ray machine, the airport police noticed some strange things in her luggage. The police allegedly needed a court order to search the bag (which I’m a bit confused about), and then it was discovered just how much she had in her bags. The flight attendant was carrying the following without declaring it:
- $11,413 in cash, as well as smaller amounts of Argentinian pesos and Colombian pesos
- Three gold bars that included 2.2kg of gold
- Old coins
- Three vintage watches, including two Rolexes and an Audemars Piguet
- Five rings
- A pin
- Four bracelets
- Two necklaces
An appraisal suggests that the flight attendant was carrying over $111,000 in goods.
Interestingly Schulz is a native of Bariloche, Argentina, and in 1981 she was the National Snow Queen. It’s not entirely clear to me whether she was based in Buenos Aires (American has a crew base there, so I’d assume so), or if she now lives in the United States, and was just working a trip to Argentina.
What was the flight attendant’s excuse?
Schulz initially refused to testify, but after a few days presented a letter that provided an explanation for what occurred. She claimed:
- All the money belonged to her
- She found some of the coins, and others were through inflight donations made by passengers
- The jewels came from a family inheritance
Of course it seems pretty clear that this wasn’t the case:
- Evidence was found that she had long conversations on WhatsApp about the items to be smuggled
- There was no documentation to support her alleged family inheritance
- Some of the items were painted black in order to conceal that there was gold underneath.
It remains to be seen what kind of a punishment Schulz will face for this attempted smuggling.
Of course international smuggling is extremely common, and that includes among airline employees. While most airline employees would never risk their careers for this, for a small minority of people it’s very easy money that they can’t say no to. The flight attendant’s intent here seems pretty clear, based on what investigators found.