American Airlines Flight Attendant Arrested For Smuggling $111K In Cash & Jewelry

American Airlines Flight Attendant Arrested For Smuggling $111K In Cash & Jewelry

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This isn’t the first time that a flight attendant has been arrested for smuggling, and it also won’t be the last time. For once it’s not drugs, though…

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.

Bottom line

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.

(Tip of the hat to Paddle Your Own Kanoo)

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  1. Anon E. mouse Guest

    Conversion error? 2.2kg is over 70 troy oz of gold, worth 124k alone...

    1. Eskimo Guest

      Knowledge error. You forgot the purity.

  2. Ron Guest

    The integrity of the Snow Queen has been totally jeopardized! Shame on you!

  3. Ligma ashwhole Guest

    Yeah fly spirit if you want your seat to be inside of the engine

  4. Nancy Guest

    Omg “passenger donations”. All I’ve gotten is dirty diapers

  5. Eqmc2 Guest

    I knew it had to be American airlines, fly spirit, a wing above.

  6. Eqmc2 Guest

    Now arrest the pandemocrat leaders, they are smuggling as we speak.

  7. Susan Guest

    Wow - it seems that they stopped a major crime here! I guess the worst thing is that the FA lied about the origins of the merchandise. Still, I just moved my jewellery collection out of my home in the Caribbean because there was work being done while I'm away for the season. Between Hubby and I, we were carrying over $1.8M in watches and jewellery plus about 5K in cash (from selling a car.)

    Wow - it seems that they stopped a major crime here! I guess the worst thing is that the FA lied about the origins of the merchandise. Still, I just moved my jewellery collection out of my home in the Caribbean because there was work being done while I'm away for the season. Between Hubby and I, we were carrying over $1.8M in watches and jewellery plus about 5K in cash (from selling a car.)
    Nobody said boo as we passed through security, though I admit I had my concerns. I was actually having an anxiety attack the night before, even though the stuff is all insured. Do these TSA agents have any clue how much jewellery moves around on flights between Asia and the US???

  8. Boris Hissmeyet Guest

    With a good union rep, she’ll be flying again within 30 days!

  9. Angela Gilliam Guest

    At least she is working. Not to excuse this but is nice someone is being able to have a little extra in this world with out killing someone.

  10. Nick Guest

    We seem to,let violent criminals go free so I don’t get what’s the big deal here. If she was a wealthy person with their own jet I’m sure she’d get away with it.

  11. Wyatt Guest

    MIA-EZE is only operated by EZE based crew so as stated above, she’d be EZE based.

  12. Stuart Guest

    It is far more common than you think in South America. Exactly as to the reasons Juan mentioned. These are families moving out assets to the U.S. to avoid the high estate taxes. As we saw in the Pandora Papers the U.S. is far more prevalent in allowing money laundering and safe havens for foreigners to park cash than anyone knew. As well, I would imagine the bills were mostly older U.S. currency, many in...

    It is far more common than you think in South America. Exactly as to the reasons Juan mentioned. These are families moving out assets to the U.S. to avoid the high estate taxes. As we saw in the Pandora Papers the U.S. is far more prevalent in allowing money laundering and safe havens for foreigners to park cash than anyone knew. As well, I would imagine the bills were mostly older U.S. currency, many in Brazil as an example have them, and they are difficult to exchange there now and probably why she was carrying the cash. To convert it in the U.S. Most likely she was also running cash back to Argentina in newer bills. Jewelry and small valuable objects are the most popular thing to run to the U.S. Plenty of dealers await in Miami for South Americans. You would be shocked at the valuable items that are there and slowly get smuggled out to avoid taxes. The wealth in Argentina and Brazil in the early 1900's make it one of the richest sources of antiques of that period in the world. In actuality, it's very possible she was moving the items for her own family.

  13. Ben L. Platinum

    So much for the vaunted integrity of the National Snow Queens

    1. Jorge Paez Guest

      My laugh out loud for the day!
      Thanks Ben!

    2. Jorge Paez Guest

      Ben L that is.....

  14. Nicolas Guest

    Ugh I didn't even need to open the article to know that an American employee doing something illegal had to be in Argentina. I would have expected the smuggling to be from the US into Argentina though

  15. Juan Guest

    @Rafael, Argentinian media actually provided that data so no issue at all. She was portraited in the local news portals.

    @Ben, she is based on Buenos Aires. AA hasn't taken actions yet, nor issued a press release. She probably wanted to avoid paying the cut (esp. "coima, tajada", mex. "mordidita") so someone release their hand to her.

  16. Andrew Guest

    The gold alone is worth about $125,000 (it's $56,727 per Kg), so I'm not sure how they came up with those numbers.

  17. Andy 11235 Guest

    I'm not quite sure the thought process that led her to believe 2.2 kg of gold bars wouldn't set off any alarm bells. Also having just /over/ USD$10k in cash is sloppy.

    For those who don't know, Argentina has very strict capital controls to defend the official exchange rate of ~100 pesos/$ when the black market rate is ~185. There is a longstanding 30% tax on dollar purchases, and an additional 35% withholding tax. Hence the gold.

    1. Susan Guest

      I agree - having over 10K in cash was really stupid.

  18. DaninMCI Guest

    Maybe a descendent of Sgt. Schultz? This is interesting. It's a large amount of money and jewelry but illegal? I assume there are some tax issues with amounts that large. What if instead, she had, say $5,000 in cash and was wearing a $2,000 necklace and a $40,000 rolex. Would that still be smuggling?

    1. Yamaha Joe Guest

      Yes indeed smuggling. Plenty of scams to support this

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Ben L. Platinum

So much for the vaunted integrity of the National Snow Queens

2
Eskimo Guest

Knowledge error. You forgot the purity.

0
Anon E. mouse Guest

Conversion error? 2.2kg is over 70 troy oz of gold, worth 124k alone...

0
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