Authorities are looking for a flight attendant who they say fled Los Angeles International Airport after being selected for a random security screening Friday, leaving behind almost 70 pounds of cocaine stashed in her luggage.
The unidentified woman remained at large Monday. It was not immediately clear which airline she worked for.
Marshall McClain, president of the union representing the airport’s police officers, said the woman was was sent to a secondary screening area, but she quickly dropped her bag, ditched a pair of Gucci heels and fled barefoot down an upward-moving escalator.
Police called to investigate the unattended bag found 69 pounds of cocaine inside.
McClain expressed concern that officers were alerted about the bag, but not a suspicious person running through the airport.
“With her bringing this amount of narcotics in the airport, chances are this wasn’t her first time through,” said McClain, who called for all airline employees and other airport employees to be screened regularly.
Security threats from “insiders” — airline and airport employees, as well as workers hired by contractors — have been a focus of the TSA, particularly after the December 2014 arrest of several Delta Air Lines baggage handlers. Prosecutors allege they smuggled guns, including an AK-47, from Atlanta to New York.
Federal authorities said last year that they busted a marijuana smuggling ring at Oakland International Airport, with arrests including baggage handlers. A separate arrest in December involved a TSA worker accused of allowing drug runners to pass their bags through X-ray machines without being stopped.
Four former baggage handlers at San Diego’s airport were sentenced in September in a drug-smuggling case.
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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.