A flight attendant selected for a random screening at Los Angeles International Airport took off from the terminal on Friday -- ditching her shoes as well as 30 kilograms of cocaine, officials and sources said.
After the woman “abandoned her belongings and escaped on foot,” airport police officers inspected her luggage and discovered the suspected cocaine, which they turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the DEA said in a statement.
A senior government official told ABC News' David Kerley the woman, who was wearing “street clothes,” approached the “known crewmember lane” but was moved by TSA to the inspection area after she’d been randomly selected for a screening.
According to a statement from the airport police union, the woman then “kicked off her shoes” and ran “down the up escalator,” leaving two carry-on roller bags behind in LAX’s Terminal 4. Witnesses apparently saw her making a cellphone call while left unattended, the union said.
According to the union’s statement, “this is a perfect example of why Los Angeles airports need 100% screening of all passengers and airport employees…. Total employee screening is realistic and achievable.”
Another source familiar with the incident tells ABC that the flight attendant scanned her known crew member badge before an algorithm selected her for that random screening. She was then escorted to the TSA checkpoint, where she was asked to swipe her badge again. The source confirms that’s when she dropped the bags, ran down the up escalator, and exited the terminal.
The woman has not been identified or captured, sources say.