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.
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?