By ANDREW BLANKSTEIN, TRACY CONNOR and MARK SCHONE, nbcnews.com
A flight attendant who fled a security check — allegedly leaving behind 68 pounds of cocaine and her Gucci shoes — was in custody Wednesday.
Marsha Gay Reynolds, 32, a former Jamaican beauty queen, surrendered in New York and was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute in a federal criminal complaint.
Court papers did not say what airline employed Reynolds, but a source told NBC News she worked for Jet Blue.
The suspect went on the lam Friday night after she showed up for a flight out of Los Angeles International Airport and was selected for a random screening.
The attendant — who normally would get to bypass bag screening as a crew member — became visibly nervous and made a phone call in a “foreign language,” Transportation Security Administration officers told police.
As she was being escorted to the front of the screening area, she kept trailing behind and then suddenly bolted toward an elevator, dropping her roller bags and taking off her designer shoes, authorities said.
She ran down an up escalator, out of the building and disappeared. Inside her bag, police found 11 bricks of cocaine wrapped in green plastic and placed into yellow or white envelopes, clothing, a package of condoms and a $5.38 in cash.
While an investigation was underway, Reynolds was able to hop a Jet Blue flight to the East Coast on Saturday, sources said. The TSA had scanned her identification before she ran from Terminal 4 in LAX but were still in the process of identifying her into the weekend, the sources said.
Sources said Reynolds was a runner-up in a Jamaican beauty contest. A woman with the same name was listed in local news stories as the third-place winner of the 2008 Miss Jamaica World pageant and a runner-up in the 2007 Miss Jamaica Universe pageant.
One online pageant profile for Reynolds said she had attended NYU. The university had a woman by the same name on its 2004 track and field roster.
The American Alliance of Airport Police Officers said Reynolds’ arrest was proof that new security measures — including screening of all airport employees — is needed.
“Screening all employees is feasible since other major airports are already doing it,” said Marshall McClain, president of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association. “We cannot wait for an employee to bring aboard or plant something nefarious on a place before we take action.”
The airport police groups also want to have a dedicated officer stationed within 300 feet of TSA checkpoints — and they said such a policy could have prevented Reynolds from kicking off her shoes and running.