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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of California

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Flight Attendant Who Tried to Bring nearly 60 Pounds of Cocaine through Security at LAX Pleads Guilty to Federal Drug Charge

            LOS ANGELES – A former JetBlue flight attendant who tried to bring nearly 60 pounds of cocaine through a security checkpoint at Los Angeles International Airport by using her “known crewmember” credentials has pleaded guilty to conspiring to traffic narcotics.

            Marsha Gay Reynolds, 32, of Jamaica, New York, pleaded guilty yesterday afternoon to one count of conspiracy to possess and to distribute cocaine.

            Reynolds pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips. Reynolds is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Christina A. Snyder on March 13. Because of the quantity of narcotics involved in this case, Reynolds faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison. The statutory maximum sentence is life.

            On March 18, Reynolds had just under 27 kilograms of cocaine in her luggage as she attempted to board a JetBlue flight in Terminal 4 at LAX, according to court documents. After showing her official badge and identification to the Transport Security Administration officer on duty at the known crewmember checkpoint, Reynolds was randomly selected for additional screening. Reynolds was then escorted to a secondary screening area. Upon arriving at this checkpoint, Reynolds dropped her luggage, removed her shoes, and fled the area, running down an upward-traveling escalator and away from TSA officers.

            Reynolds pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge filed Friday in United States District Court. According to the “First Superseding Information,” Reynolds was working with an unindicted co-conspirator who supplied her with the narcotics seized at LAX. The co-conspirator supplied Reynolds with narcotics and the proceeds of drug sales so she could transport them between Los Angeles and New York. Reynolds admitted these allegations when she pleaded guilty.

            “This defendant violated the trust placed in her when she received clearance to travel through our nation’s airports without the typical security checks,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This flight attendant played an important role in a significant narcotics-trafficking operation that posed a danger to the travelers and employees at major U.S. airports.”

            Reynolds has been in custody since March 23, when she surrendered herself to the Drug Enforcement Administration at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

            This investigation is being conducted by the Los Angeles International Airport Criminal Enterprise Task Force (LAACETF), an inter-agency task force based at LAX. The Task Force, which includes representatives of the FBI, the DEA, United States Customs and Border Protection, the Transportation Security Administration, the Los Angeles International Airport Police Department, the Los Angeles Police Department, and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. The LAACETF provides a coordinated law enforcement effort to target airport/airline internal criminal enterprises that use the aviation system to transport large amounts of illicit drugs throughout the United States and various international destinations. The LAACETF focuses on LAX and other Southland airports, including John Wayne International Airport, the Los Angeles/Ontario International Airport, the Long Beach Airport, Bob Hope Airport, the Van Nuys Airport, and the Santa Monica Airport.

            This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Reema M. El-Amamy of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.

Press Release Number: 
Updated December 13, 2016