A flight attendant is wanted by federal authorities in the US after she abandoned 70 pounds of cocaine stashed in her luggage at Los Angeles International Airport and fled the scene.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers stopped the woman in a random check on Friday and brought her through to a second security screening, at which point she took of her shoes and ran out of the building.
She has still not been found, said special agent Timothy Massino from the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
After being taken through to security – which is not compulsory for airport staff on every flight – the flight attendant quickly dropped her bag, ditched a pair of Gucci heels and fled barefoot down an upward-moving escalator, according to Marshall McClain, president of the union representing LAX airport police officers.
Mr McClain, who is head of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association, said the case shows why all flight attendants and other airport employees need to be screened.
“With her bringing this amount of narcotics in the airport, chances are this wasn’t her first time through,” he said.
Security threats from “insiders,” including airline and airport employees and workers hired by contractors, have been a focus of the TSA since the arrest of several Delta Air Lines baggage handlers in December 2014.
Prosecutors allege they smuggled guns, including an AK-47, from Atlanta to New York.
The TSA has said that full screening of all employees would cost too much. Instead, the agency has urged airports to increase random screenings of workers and to keep background checks up to date.
“We will pay particular attention to the insider threat,” TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger told a Senate committee earlier this month.
About six years ago in Australia, corrupt baggage handlers and customs officials were found to be in the employ of organised crime syndicates smuggling drugs and firearms into the country, the Sydney Daily Telegraph reported at the time.