Former JetBlue Flight Attendant Pleads Guilty To Smuggling 70 Pounds of Cocaine

By McCarton Ackerman 12/16/16

The drug-smuggling former beauty queen faces 10 years in prison under mandatory minimum sentencing laws. 

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Woman with suitcase at airport.

A former Jamaican beauty queen and JetBlue flight attendant now has a new title next to her name: drug smuggler.

Marsha Gay Reynolds pleaded guilty on Monday (Dec. 12) to one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine. The Associated Press reported that she will be sentenced on March 3, but faces 10 years behind bars under mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines. Her lawyer, Stuart Goldfarb, told AP that he expects Reynolds to get a reduced sentence despite the mandatory minimum, but didn’t elaborate on how that would happen. This can usually be done by giving information about co-defendants, but Goldfarb confirmed that Reynolds so far has not been cooperating with authorities in this manner.

The former pageant queen was on the run for several days last March after literally flicking off her Gucci heels and fleeing Los Angeles International Airport. After being selected for a random screening at LAX, something which crew members normally get to bypass, Transportation Security Administration officers reported that she became visibly nervous and ran away from the terminal. LAPD officials searched her bag and found 11 bricks of cocaine totaling 70 pounds.

TSA officials hadn’t identified her 24 hours later, enabling Reynolds to board a JetBlue flight to the East Coast. She remained in hiding for four days before surrendering herself to DEA agents at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Reynolds carried out her drug-smuggling scheme with another co-conspirator only identified as "G.B." Court documents show that he was in the U.S. illegally, but was able to board flights by stealing the identities of mentally disabled men and obtaining driver’s licenses and passports in their name.

"She was able to facilitate this individual's drug trafficking operation. She was ferrying the drugs across the country and then bringing the proceeds of the drug sales back to Southern California," said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. District Attorney’s Office. Mrozek also confirmed that other people may have been involved and an investigation into a larger drug ring is ongoing.

In May 2014, four JetBlue employees were arrested along with a Delta employee for smuggling $417,000 in drug money onto flights at Boston’s Logan Airport. The men received sentences ranging from 14 months to two years.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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