Drug-Smuggling Plot Goes Awry for Flight Attendant

Terese White admits taping 3 lbs. to her abdomen, a tiny fraction of total fentanyl seized in US in 2022
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 26, 2022 1:00 PM CST
Updated Dec 31, 2022 4:50 PM CST
Flight Attendant Admits to Fentanyl Smuggling Scheme
Stock photo shows flight attendants walking in an airport.   (Getty/Svitlana Hulko)

A flight attendant pleaded guilty last week to drug trafficking charges after being busted with 3 pounds of fentanyl taped to her body in San Diego International Airport. Per the San Diego Union-Tribune, Terese L. White, 41, entered her plea in a San Diego federal courtroom. White is from Dallas, and she was off duty on Oct. 4 when she tried to board a flight from San Diego to Boston. According to a Justice Department press release, White tried to use the "Known Crew Member" queue, which is less secure than the one used by most passengers, but she was selected to go through the regular screening process anyway.

According to ABC10, the body scanner drew attention to her abdominal area, where TSA officers found the packages. At first, White told police the packages were "not what you think," per a complaint, and that it was simply a "mercury pack" weight loss system someone had loaned her. The K9 unit wasn't fooled, however, and soon thereafter a sample taken from the packages tested positive for fentanyl. Per NBC7, White's plea agreement "includes an admission that she tried to use her status as a flight attendant to commit the offense." She faces up to 20 years in prison at her sentencing on March 24.

White's plea came a few days after the DEA released its fentanyl seizure numbers for 2022, which included 50.6 million fake prescription pills and over 10,000 pounds of powder. Per FOX 5, California alone seized upward of 28,000 pounds of fentanyl this year, a sixfold increase over 2021. But the tide of addiction and death has continued to rise all over the country, with about 196 Americans dying every day from fentanyl overdoses, "the equivalent of a fully loaded Boeing 757-200 crashing and killing everyone on board," according to a recent Washington Post report on how the US government fumbled the fentanyl crisis from the start. (Read more fentanyl stories.)

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