After a flight attendant allegedly tried to smuggle 70 pounds of cocaine through Los Angeles International Airport, authorities were unable to identify her until the next day even though her airline crew member’s badge had been scanned at a security checkpoint moments before she fled, federal officials said.
The information from Marsha Gay Reynolds’ scanned badge was accessible only through a national Transportation Security Administration passenger database and could not be retrieved by investigators in Los Angeles after she ran Friday, authorities said.
It took until Saturday for authorities in Washington, D.C., to identify Reynolds from the database, according to a source with knowledge of the case who spoke on condition of anonymity because of a lack of authorization to discuss the case with the media. An FBI spokeswoman said investigators learned Reynolds’ identity hours after the 31-year-old boarded a flight Saturday from LAX to New York, where she resides.
The difficulty in identifying Reynolds — and the ease with which she managed to escape the terminal Friday — highlighted serious security flaws at the nation’s second-largest airport, said Marshall McClain, president of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Assn. Like many airports around the country, LAX does not routinely screen airline crew members. McClain said Reynolds easily would have been able to shepherd the cocaine through security had she not been selected for a random screening.
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