American Airlines Crew Arrested On Suspicion Of Money Laundering

Four American Airlines flight attendants have been arrested in Miami on the charges of money laundering. According to CBS, the employees were carrying a combined $22,000 USD from Chile into the United States. This charge is made all the more serious as Chile is undergoing civil unrest on the basis of corruption.

American Airlines hangar concept
Four flight attendants have been arrested. Photo: American Airlines

What are the details?

Four American Airlines flight attendants deplaned from a flight from Chile when they were stopped by customs agents. Specifically, one of the flight attendants was asked how much money they were carrying, claiming $100 USD in total. When pressed, he revealed he had over $9,000 on his person.

Becoming suspicious, the customs agents decided to search the other three flight attendants and found a combined total of $22,000 USD in cash. Lacking the proper authority to bring in over $10,000 USD to the country, and were found in breach of ‘structuring’ money import violations.

Structuring means that a person, acting alone, or in conjunction with, or on behalf of, other persons, conducts or attempts to conduct one or more transactions in currency, in any amount for the purpose of evading reporting requirements provided by state or federal law.” – CBS report. 

As this team acted as a group to bring in over $10,000 USD, they are all liable to be charged. To protect identities until they are found guilty, Simple Flying will not publish their names.

American Airlines has been very quiet on the situation, “We take this matter seriously and are cooperating with law enforcement throughout their investigation,” they said in a statement to Simple Flying.

Money laundering
Money laundering is a serious crime in the USA. Photo: US Secret Service via Wikimedia

Why is this situation serious?

Currently, in Chile, there are vast protests against the government, with wealth inequality serving as the main catalyst for the unrest. Simple Flying is not a political blog, so we won’t dive deep into the issues so forgive us if we have grossly simplified the situation in the country.

With the news that a team of American Airlines flight attendants conspired to move large sums of money out of the country to America, that sounds awfully suspicious.

It is likely that this will elevate the inquiry from investigating a humble person who doesn’t like banks to an international investigation into a money-laundering syndicate using flight attendants. If other flight attendants are performing the same actions likely they will show up in the next few weeks as the extra vigilant customer’s agents begin their crackdown.

Or perhaps the most simple solution is true; the team won big at the casino and decided to take their winnings in cash. How lucky!

American Airlines is currently in a bit of a battle for South America with Delta, who recently managed to secure ownership of LATAM. This has prompted a reply from the flag carrier, with them increasing South America Flights to bite back.

What do you think? Is there something going on or are they just wealthy flight attendants? Let us know in the comments.