American Airlines says it is taking “very seriously” the arrest of four of its flight attendants at Miami International Airport (MIA) on Monday on suspicion of money laundering. The flight attendants were found with over $22,000 in their possession after a routine check by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers having just arrived on a flight from Santiago de Chile.
It’s believed that all four flight attendants are Chilean-based international flight attendants for the Dallas Fort Worth-based airline. They have been held in custody on a $10,000 bond while the case against them is progressed.
According to an arrest report filed by the Miami-Dade Police Department, one of the flight attendants who has been named as Carlos Alberto Munoz-Moyano told customs officers that he only had a $100 in cash on him when he was initially stopped. During the search, it’s alleged that officers actually found something in the region of $9,000 in his luggage.
Other flight attendants were then pulled and subjected to searches. Miaria Delpilar Roman-Strick was found with $7,300 on her possession, while Maria Isabel Wilson-Ossandon had $6,371 stashed in her carry-on. The Miami Herald reports the fourth flight attendant, named as Maria Beatriz Pasten-Cuzmar, may not have had any money on her but she is also being held on suspicion of money laundering according to police records.
The arrest report claims Pasten-Cuzmar conspired with the other three flight attendants to illegally bring the money into the United States and hand it over to an unknown person.
In a statement, American Airlines told us: “We take this matter seriously and are cooperating with law enforcement throughout their investigation.”
If the case against them is proven, these four suspects will join a long list of flight attendants who have attempted to use their positions to illegally smuggle goods across borders. In fact, what these flight attendants were attempting to allegedly smuggle is mere small change compared to the arrest of a Malaysian Airlines flight attendant last year.
Muhamad Aziz was found guilty of attempting to smuggle £150,000 ($193,000) out of Heathrow Airport – he initially claimed he had brought the money with him to go on a designer shopping spree in London but didn’t get round to spending the money because he was tired. The story failed to convince a British Court and he was jailed for 12-months last November.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.