Flight Attendant Caught Smuggling Fentanyl

Flight Attendant Caught Smuggling Fentanyl

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Airline employees can get access to secure areas without having to go through security, and at times that’s not used for good. Here’s the latest such case.

Flight attendant attempts to smuggle fentanyl

On October 4, 2022, an off-duty flight attendant attempted to enter the secure area of San Diego Airport (SAN) with fentanyl, while trying to travel as a non-rev to Boston Airport (BOS). Specifically, this flight attendant worked for Mesa Airlines, a regional airline that operates flights on behalf of American Airlines and United Airlines.

This flight attendant was a “Known Crew Member” (KCM), allowing her to bypass the standard security screening process. This is a standard feature that flight attendants and pilots can sign-up for. However, employees are sometimes chosen for TSA’s Unpredictable Screening Procedures (USP), so that they still have to be screened.

This flight attendant was selected to be screened on this occasion, and that wasn’t good news for her. She alarmed the walk through metal detector, and as a result had to go through the full body scanner with Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT). The incident report notes that she “initially appeared hesitant to enter the AIT and then was shaking when she was standing still inside of the AIT.”

She was then sent to a private room for additional screening. During this screening, the flight attendant removed “a large mass that was wrapped around her abdomen.” At this point the Harbor Police Department and Drug Enforcement Agency got involved. A narcotic detection dog alerted to the mass.

The flight attendant’s defense for this

While being questioned, the flight attendant claimed that the large mass was “not what you think.” Her defense was that her co-worker gave her a “mercury pack” to wear for weight loss. Right.

A sample of the substance contained in the package tested positive for the characteristics of fentanyl. The package had a weight 1.51 kilograms, or 3.33 pounds. The flight attendant was immediately arrested, and has been charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

She has now been released on bail, and has been fired by Mesa Airlines. One certainly has to wonder how many times she (and other flight attendants) have successfully smuggled fentanyl without getting caught. After all, it was only due to a random screening selection that she was searched, and that only happens a small percentage of the time.

Fentanyl deaths have become increasingly common in recent years, and smugglers have gotten more creative with how they transport drugs. For example, 12,000 fentanyl pills were recently seized at an LAX security checkpoint, as the traveler with them fled the scene.

Bottom line

A (now former) flight attendant has been arrested for trying to fly with over three pounds of fentanyl. As a “Known Crew Member,” this was an employee who didn’t ordinarily have to go through security. However, she was randomly selected on this occasion, and a strange mass was detected on her body. She has now been charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

What do you make of this case?

Conversations (40)
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  1. Dave W Guest

    This is what will kill KCM, a regional FA without a career path….unlike pilots who almost ALL have a career path to protect and therefore will never smuggle anything whereas a regional FA has little to lose bring this sh!t through KCM. Just like the Jet Blue FA in LAX was smuggling stuff through. Regional FAs should NOT be allowed into KCM!!!!’

  2. Flight attendant Guest

    We get randomed more than you think. I get a random every other week with as much as I fly, so the FA in the article doesn’t have all the crayons in the box to do something that stupid.

    1. Dave W Guest

      Again, the reward outweighs the risks when you are a regional FA as you have very little to lose, career-wise!

    2. STARBOUND Guest

      As an ex Goverment employee of 20years, flying for Mesa as a flight attendant is a career choice with a future. The job is exactly the same as flying for other larger airlines.
      There are bad apples in every line of work.

  3. Patrol Agent Guest

    If you can think of a way to smuggle, someone is already doing it.

  4. Rochelle Guest

    What she did is wrong, no doubt. I came to read the comments in the hopes of good insight on resolving drug trafficking deadly dope. I find myself concerned that you two intelligent men were antagonizing each other. As a society and as humans we need to treat others with love, please consider.

    1. CHRIS Guest

      We also need JAIL.....and lots of it for criminals.

  5. FlyerDon Guest

    I really don’t like that you show a picture of an American Eagle aircraft with this story. This was a Mesa employee and Mesa is a small player for American Eagle and about to become even smaller. She also was not trying to travel on an AA flight. You should have shown an aircraft in Mesa’s own livery.

  6. Pam Thicket Guest

    One reason the UK stopped visa-free travel for South African citizens was because so many SAA flight attendants were smuggling drugs.

  7. Pierre Gold

    She was FIRED ?
    Hopefully you mean "Fired UPON", as in "Ready, Aim, FIRE".
    Notwithstanding any other political stance, Death Penalty for Drugs Trafickers is perfectly fine with me, totally irrespective of one's political orientation.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      But this is USA.
      Capital punishment is bad for politics.
      Death of inmates is bad for prison business, who happens to be big donors too.

      Don't leave politics out of this.

    2. Pam Thicket Guest

      It wasn't drugs she had on, it was a mercury pack for weight loss!

    3. BBK Diamond

      Drug Traffickers (and especially fentanyl) absolutely lack any regard for human life. So I can't disagree.

  8. ATLFlyet Guest

    KCM should be for pilots only (as originally intended). FAs have a lot less to lose. Most pilots wouldn't jeopardize their life's work and career like that.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      because there isn't sufficient volume to staff KCM checkpoints just on pilot volume.

    2. JJ737 Guest

      If a pilot wanted to take down an aircraft, he wouldn’t need anything he’s carrying in his flight bag.

      I still don’t get why pilots have to be screened, unless it’s for some “feel good” mentality in today’s world.

    3. Tim Dunn Diamond

      were you around on 9/11?

    4. JJ737 Guest

      If a pilot wanted to take down an aircraft, he wouldn’t need anything he’s carrying in his flight bag.

      I still don’t get why pilots have to be screened, unless it’s for some “feel good” mentality in today’s world.

    5. Pogonation Guest

      Erm yea they would. There are 2 (and sometimes 3) pilots in the cabin and I’m sure one of them might not be keen on the other Nose diving into a mountain… if one of them had a gun or deadly weapon in their bag however they may be able to eliminate the second/third pilot and then do what they like!
      I for one am glad that pilots get checked the same as the rest of us.

    6. BKT Guest

      Germanwings 9525.

      Malaysian 370

      EgyptAir 990.

      Yes....I agree with you. I'm sure the other pilots onboard weren't super keen with the PIC's decision to hog the plane into the ground/ocean at a high rate of speed.

    7. James McHannish Guest

      Erm, many pilots ARE armed already, and if they are, they don’t go through KCM at all. So your point is utterly nonsensical.

    8. FA Guest

      I disagree. We spend a lot of time training to get that position, as well as our quarterly and yearly training. Don’t demean people you know nothing about

    9. STARLIGHT Guest

      Flight attendants are trained to save Your life, and survive impacts....we have more to lose

    10. Jethead Guest

      Have you seen American Made?

    11. MP Guest

      I hear your point and it is valid. However, the vast majority of us mainline flight attendants, would never, ever jeopardize what we have either. I am only six months in and I would not jeopardize it. (of course I wouldn’t do this anyway, no matter what.) The amount of time it saves us each morning heading to our next flight, is important! I get random usually a couple times every 3 day trip, and...

      I hear your point and it is valid. However, the vast majority of us mainline flight attendants, would never, ever jeopardize what we have either. I am only six months in and I would not jeopardize it. (of course I wouldn’t do this anyway, no matter what.) The amount of time it saves us each morning heading to our next flight, is important! I get random usually a couple times every 3 day trip, and that’s fair. I think random is very crucial. It’s very frustrating when a very minute amount of people ruin it for all.

  9. JOJO Guest

    People who smuggle drugs should be tried in court, convicted and hung by the neck until dead with in 6months of conviction

  10. Jeff Guest

    I wonder how much this “side hustle” supplements a regional flight attendant’s salary.

  11. Sam Guest

    Lol of course it’s Mesa

  12. TT Guest

    Jeff,
    Regardibg "They just can't be trusted".
    There are bad apples everywhere.
    No system is ever perfect.
    You, Sir, sound like the ex husband of a flight attendant.

    1. CHRIS Guest

      Sorry the facts are inconvenient to you. When was the last time you intentionally violated KCM policies or smuggled drugs?.....last week maybe?

  13. anon Guest

    Oh so that's why there were no fentanyl in the halloween candies!

    1. CHRIS Guest

      Yeah they went back to putting razor blades in them. I was disappointed too.

  14. CHRIS Guest

    This is why KCM needs to go. They can't be trusted. They've been smuggling drugs, carrying other people's bags etc through KCM for YEARS. They had a good thing but just couldn't handle it could they?

  15. Jeff Guest

    Is there an enhanced penalty for abusing their KCM special status? I am thinking there should be. Similar to how some crimes against children are given stiffer sentences if the perpetrator was in a position of authority such as a teacher/coach.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      if you are fired from an airline, you don't have KCM any more.

      the bigger issue is whether crew members should be able to use KCM when traveling for personal reasons and not while on duty, company business or commuting to/from work.
      There was a case several years ago of an airline employee smuggling weapons to a state where handguns were restricted on personal time because they could bypass security.

    2. TG Guest

      In general, all employees MUST go through security when traveling on personal travel (at least on DL) if you are outside a secure area. This rule has been in effect for years and several employees have been fired for this offense.

  16. David Diamond

    It wasn’t just the random screening, but also that fact that she also triggered the metal detector. It was only through good luck (that this particular drug smuggler was an idiot and triggered the metal detector) and she was caught.

    1. Alicia Guest

      She was definitely dumb for what she did but if she hadn’t gotten a random screening then she wouldn’t have had to go through the detector at all. If she hadn’t gotten the random she would have just bypassed security completely that’s why she took the chance like a dummy.

  17. Moe Guest

    That explains why a lot of us have been getting randomed a lot more at KCM. The few bad apples ruin it for the rest of us.

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.

Tim Dunn Diamond

if you are fired from an airline, you don't have KCM any more. the bigger issue is whether crew members should be able to use KCM when traveling for personal reasons and not while on duty, company business or commuting to/from work. There was a case several years ago of an airline employee smuggling weapons to a state where handguns were restricted on personal time because they could bypass security.

4
Eskimo Guest

But this is USA. Capital punishment is bad for politics. Death of inmates is bad for prison business, who happens to be big donors too. Don't leave politics out of this.

3
David Diamond

It wasn’t just the random screening, but also that fact that she also triggered the metal detector. It was only through good luck (that this particular drug smuggler was an idiot and triggered the metal detector) and she was caught.

3
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