A 28-year-old woman was arrested Tuesday at Los Angeles International Airport and charged with trying to smuggle at least a 2.2 pounds of cocaine aboard a super-discount airline to her hometown of Detroit.
Kennsha Mason was taken into custody by special agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration after boarding a Spirit Airlines flight, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
A criminal complaint filed in Los Angeles federal court alleges the narcotics were discovered in Mason’s luggage after she checked in for a flight bound for Baltimore, which was a layover on a trip to Detroit.
After seeing something suspicious in one of the bags during an image scan, Transportation Security Administration officers inspected the bag and discovered three individually wrapped items that were vacuum-sealed and wrapped with a layer of carbon paper, according to the document.
The TSA alerted Los Angeles Airport Police, who located Mason on her Spirit Airlines flight and escorted her off the airplane about 12:30 a.m.
During a subsequent interview, Mason admitted to DEA special agents that she had previously transported drugs from Los Angeles to Detroit on four or five occasions, and that she was paid $3,500 each time she transported narcotics to Detroit, prosecutors allege.
During the interview recounted in an affidavit, Mason allegedly stated that she was working for someone in Detroit who purchased her airline tickets and directed her to an address in Pasadena, where she picked up the drugs to be delivered to Detroit.
“Our nation’s air travel system is designed to carry people to see loved ones and conduct business — not as a means to smuggle narcotics or other contraband,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “We actively work to interdict drug shipments as part of our mission to protect our critical infrastructure. Those who threaten that infrastructure will be subject to vigorous prosecution.”
The complaint charges Mason with possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance, a charge which carries a possible sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison.
“The trend of criminal organizations utilizing the Los Angeles International Airport to distribute narcotics nationwide is on the rise,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Steve Comer.
“Every time an illegal substance is smuggled onto a commercial airliner, it presents an unacceptable compromise to passenger safety,” he said. “We’ll continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to mitigate these threats and bring the violators to justice.”
Spirit often is criticized in social media for adding charges for everything from carry-on luggage, printing boarding passes at airports, seat reservations, snack and checking bags. But it offers some of the lowest prices on its routes, despite reduced leg room.
— City News Service