A uniformed American Airlines flight attendant was busted at JFK allegedly trying to smuggle out $600,000 in drug money — and now is fighting to keep the cash, The Post has learned.
That attendant, Jorge Albert Perez, and Mariano DeJesus Rivera were arrested in May at a security checkpoint with the money in their carry-on luggage, according to federal court documents.
They had packed nearly 30,000 $20 bills in 24 American Airlines envelopes hoping that the lettering would discourage screeners from looking too hard as they sought to board a flight to Puerto Rico, the documents say.
A month later, their lawyer filed papers seeking what the feds believe to be drug proceeds that had been headed to a Latin American cartel, according to the documents.
No charges have been filed yet, but investigators say they found on Perez’s phone evidence of at least 10 communications with federal drug-probe targets.
Perez told DEA agents that the money was for his reggaeton business, Stars Creations, but he has so far failed to provide proof.
“Perez also told the agents that Rivera was his business partner and that Perez was transporting the currency to Puerto Rico for a reggaeton show,” according to the filing, which also says a drug-sniffing dog smelled narcotics on the bills.
Besides the 28,757 $20’s, Perez and Rivera had packed 2,439 $10’s and 56 $5 bills.
“[They] were unable to provide any documentation for the origin of the currency that was being transported,” the prosecutor wrote.
An American Airlines spokesman declined to comment on what he called a “police matter.”
In an unrelated case last month, an American Airlines baggage handler was slammed with three life sentences after being convicted of running a drug-smuggling ring out of JFK.