31 Pounds of Cocaine Found in Nose Gear of American Airlines Plane — Again

Thirty one pounds of cocaine in seven bricks were found inside the nose gear of an American Airlines plane having work done in Tulsa.

Just a year ago cocaine was found in an American Airlines plane up from Bogota while in Tulsa for maintenance.

Last year a JetBlue flight attendant was caught smuggling cocaine — but for real quantity the nose of an aircraft does seem a better place to hide it. What’s troubling here is that the drug operation in Colombia clearly has access to American Airlines aircraft. The plane had come in from Bogota.

The Tulsa, Oklahoma Sheriff’s Office commented on American’s maintenance strategy,

Due to the facility in Miami being busy, the plane was sent to Tulsa for the work, TCSO Deputy Justin Green said.

Here’s what actually struck me. American flies two daily Airbus A319s between Miami and Bogota. My impression had been that A319s were maintained out of Dallas, with Tulsa focusing on Boeing narrow body planes. However (and this isn’t an issue I’ve tracked closely) I imagine with the retirements of MD80s, with the need for fewer heavy maintenance checks as American’s fleet age has been reduced the Tulsa base has seemed to diversify.

    Update: American tells me it was a Boeing 757 registration N183AN.

American Airlines Hanger, Dallas Fort-Worth

American Airlines Airbus A319 in Dallas Maintenance

However if the Sheriff’s Office statement is sort of accurate, that the work was the kind of routine maintenance which would normally be done at the Miami hub then it’s possible the plane could simply have been diverted for the work.

Meanwhile, someone wants their drugs.

(HT: Greekquent Flyer)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Every airline that’s ever flown to Latin America (especially Columbia) has had this problem. Obviously, there’s a gazillion dollars to be made with this smuggling, and you can pretty much buy off whoever you need to. You might think the gov’t (and the airlines) would have learned something from this history. Heck, the only time I ever flew to Columbia, there were plain clothes police officers posing as passengers waiting in the boarding lounge, who then pulled their badges out at boarding time and questioning (and, I presume, searching) certain passengers. So, obviously, some effort is made. You”d just think they could do better.

  2. Gary you haven’t a clue about the company’s MX operations in line stations or overhaul base. Why not just plop the link down and let the hits rolls in? Why add your irrelevant and incorrect analysis of MX footprint and operations?

  3. This is fairly simple. You look at where the plane was supposed to go originally. Then you look at any employee who would have access to the plane and that area of plane after it landed. Obviously it will be someone working around the time of arrival because they aren’t just going to leave all those drugs laying around there. Then you take that group of employees and put them in little rooms and eventually someone is going to break.

  4. @Josh G – I write that I haven’t kept up on American’s use of the Tulsa maintenance base which is why I find it interesting to look into, why do you have a problem with that?

  5. As someone who travels a lot to Colombia, I enjoyed the article and analysis. I also understand that one of the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal is trolling travel blogs. Keep up the great work, Gary!

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