US prosecutors allege…J’can beauty queen had drug links drug links
United States prosecutors have linked Marsha Gay Reynolds, the Jamaica-born Jet Blue Airways flight attendant on narcotics charges, to people whose money is thought to be proceeds of drug trafficking.
In addition, her co-conspirator in the massive drug bust in which she was held holds a fake passport, court documents obtained by THE WEEKEND STAR have revealed.
Reynolds, runner-up for Miss Jamaica World pageant in 2008, was arrested after she attempted to smuggle nearly 70 pounds of cocaine – worth an estimated US$3 million (J$367m) – through Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on March 18.
The US government said it has provided Reynolds’ lawyers with the names of three persons on her “companion list at Jet Blue who have criminal histories with at least one drug offence”.
Jet Blue yesterday said that companions for airline employees are those who can travel for free or at substantially reduced fares on a stand-by basis. They are either an immediate crew member or someone listed on their buddy pass who gets travel privileges based on the availability of seats.
The court documents also said two others who are part of Reynolds’ companion list were intercepted at the airport carrying thousands of dollars in cash, one with more than US$100,000 (J$12.26m).
According to the US government, drug-sniffing dogs alerted law enforcement officials to the money, which was seized as suspected drug proceeds and later forfeited by the government in part or in whole. US prosecutors have refused to divulge those reports saying to do so could prejudice the ongoing investigation.
Reynolds, whose father the court documents said is a former member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, has been jailed in US since her arrest.
In the court documents, one of Reynolds’ friends, who is now a key prosecution witness, said she was asked to help to carry the bags with the drugs through security, using her access badge, in order to avoid baggage fees.
Reynolds had hurriedly arranged a meeting with her friend, a US homeland security and custom officer, three days after she reportedly ran from the airport leaving the drug behind. The friend then provided the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the DEA of details of his meeting with Reynolds, which took place at a restaurant.
According to the informant in whom she confided, Reynolds told him to make sure that Kevin, one of the two men she was assisting to smuggle the suitcases, does not leave the US. Kevin is reportedly the man who told Reynolds to run after she was pulled from the line for further screening.
The informant believed that Kevin’s nickname was ‘Knock Knees’, a man he believes owned multiple properties and utilised multiple identities. He said he recalled Reynolds stating that Kevin told her not to cooperate with authorities and to go to Jamaica after the incident to avoid law enforcement authorities.
Court documents supplied by the United States Attorney’s Office, Central District of California, Los Angeles, indicate that the witness who has been assisting the government, said Reynolds’ boyfriend is believed to have come from a wealthy family and was a restaurant owner and engineer in Jamaica.
The cooperating witness, to whom Reynolds turned for help after she ditched her Gucci shoes at the airport and ran, has been giving investigators details of a meeting between them. He even gave permission to the government to record telephone conversations between himself and Reynolds. Those conversations will be played in court.
Reynolds is being held in custody without bond. She is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment today in United States District Court in Los Angeles. At the arraignment, she will be asked to enter a plea. If she pleads not guilty, a trial date will be set.
If she is convicted of the narcotics trafficking offence, Reynolds would face a statutory maximum penalty of life in federal prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years