The sight of people sprinting through one of Los Angeles International Airport's sprawling terminals isn't all that uncommon. As long as they're running toward a flight, anyway.
But after she was selected for a random security screening, a flight attendant kicked off her heels and sprinted in the opposite direction Friday night, barreling the wrong way up an escalator and leaving her bags behind.
Minutes later, Los Angeles Airport police officers assigned to search the bags found out the woman had nearly 70 good reasons to run.
The woman, who has not been identified and remains at large, was carrying roughly 70 pounds of cocaine, said Marshall McClain, president of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Assn.
Airport and airline staff are not subject to security screenings every time they approach a checkpoint, a process McClain described as ripe for exploitation.
“Just like traveling passengers, airport and airline employees should undergo the same screening to help decrease the opportunities for these employees to commit crimes and to help eliminate ‘insider' or ‘lone wolf' criminal activity,” he said in a statement.
Timothy Massino, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration in Los Angeles, said Monday that the Transportation Security Administration referred the case to the DEA after the woman ran from the screening area. Massino declined to comment further.
The woman was seen running from the area after she was selected for the random screening by TSA agents, Massino said. It was not clear how she was able to flee, although McClain said her seemingly easy escape highlighted the need to post an airport police officer at each security checkpoint, which used to be a common practice.
The TSA and the Los Angeles Airport Police Department referred all questions to the DEA. It was not clear what airline the woman worked for.
McClain said it was unlikely that Friday was the woman's first attempt at exploiting her security clearance.
“I don't believe anybody would trust a mule with that amount of dope the first time out,” he said. “You're talking about $2 million worth of cocaine.... That's pretty troubling. This is more than likely not her first time doing this.”
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