Passenger made bomb threat on plane to escape cartel, documents say
A passenger aboard an Alaska Airlines flight from Atlanta to Seattle Wednesday is accused of making a bomb threat that caused pilots to land the plane in Spokane, Washington.
Documents filed in U.S. District Court said Brandon Scott, 38, claimed he made the threat because members or a "powerful cartel" were under orders to kill him when he arrived in Seattle, CBS affiliate KIRO-TV reported. Scott faces a false information and hoaxes charge.
After the plane took off Wednesday afternoon, Scott handed a flight attendant a note saying he had homemade explosives in his carry-on and a detonator on him, the court documents alleged.
"This is not a joke," the note read. "Several pounds of homemade explosives are in my carry on bag. I have a detonator with me. Handle this matter carefully and exactly how I say, otherwise I will detonate the explosives and kill everyone on board."
Scott's note demanded the plane be rerouted to "any other airport." The note instructed the flight attendant to alert the pilot and air traffic controllers but keep the threat from others aboard the plane, the documents said.
The note said he would surrender "peacefully" upon arrival at the rerouted destination, according to the court filing.
"Pretend there is some sort of equipment problem or whatever you have to do," Scott's note said in closing. "Just get this plane rerouted. Failure to comply will cost the lives of everyone on this plane."
Upon arrival in Spokane, Scott was detained but a search by a bomb squad found no explosives, court documents said.
"The captain came over and said, 'I can't say much, but a guy in first class told the flight attendants that if we hand in Seattle, he has a bomb, and that he's going to let it off if we land in Seattle," one witness told KIRO-TV.
Scott told investigators he made the false threat hoping to be arrested because members of the Sinaloa Cartel were waiting in Seattle to torture and kill him.
Scott is being held in the Spokane County Jail and faces up to five years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine if convicted. It was not immediately known if he has an attorney to comment on his behalf.
The incident comes less than three months after a passenger on another Alaska Airlines flight forced a plane to divert to another airport. Chloe Dasilva, 32, was on a flight from San Francisco to Chicago O'Hare when she allegedly became disruptive and threatened to kill a flight attendant, authorities said. The flight she was on was ultimately diverted to Kansas City International Airport because the pilot was worried for the safety of the passengers.