Four American Airlines flight attendants have been arrested at Miami International Airport and have been charged with money laundering after carrying large amounts of cash into the country, police said. The airline says it's cooperating with law enforcement on their investigation.
On Monday, the flight attendants were going through customs when they were arrested, according to a Miami-Dade police report. A Customs and Border Patrol Agent checking Carlos Alberto Muñoz-Moyano, who had arrived on a flight from Chile, asked the flight attendant how much money he was carrying, and he responded $100, the police report said. He later said that he had $9,000, according to the police report.
The customs agent notified other agents, who discovered that other attendants from the same fight were also carrying large amounts of cash, despite the fact that they didn’t have a license to do so. The police report has redacted what the flight attendants confessed to when they were interviewed by a Homeland Security Agent. Agents found $7,300 on Miaria Delpilar Roman-Strick and $6,371 on Maria Isabel Wilson-Ossandon, the report said.
Police didn't confirm whether the fourth flight attendant, Maria Beatriz Pasten-Cuzmar, had been charged or if she had any money on her. However, the other flight attendants claimed Pasten-Cuzmar was the one who “directed them to transport U.S. currency into the United States and deliver it to a known person.”
The report stated that the flight attendants said they would receive one percent of what they carried for the cash smuggling. If true, Munoz-Moyano would receive $90, Roman-Strick $73 and Wilson-Ossandon $63.71, less than the pay for an eight-hour shift at McDonald’s at Florida minimum wage.
The total amount of money seized was $22,671. The four flight attendants, who are residents of Santiago, Chile, remain in Miami-Dade County jail with a $10,000 bond and a hold for immigration.
Florida law defines money laundering as a financial transaction or series of transactions used to conceal, disguise, hide, or process money and other proceeds generated through criminal activity. The four defendants have been charged with money laundering by avoiding reporting requirements and being unauthorized money transmitters. The penalties depend upon the amount of money processed and range from 5 years in state prison to 30 years in state prison.