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Plane Passengers Sickened by Fumes

December 18, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) _ An overnight flight became more than the usual ``red eye″ when acrid fumes from a passenger’s handbag sickened several people and led to its owner’s arrest for possession of illegal narcotics.

The American Airlines flight was halfway from Los Angeles to New York early Sunday when the odor wafted through the cabin, causing coughing and burning eyes, said Alan Hicks, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Flight attendants traced the smell to a piece of carry-on luggage which contained two bottles, one of them broken and leaking a foul-smelling liquid, which was flushed down a toilet.

The other bottle contained an amber-colored liquid that the bag’s owner claimed was whiskey. A police test later determined it contained liquid cocaine, Hicks said.

Residue from the broken bottle, which the passenger told authorities was a home remedy, was also being tested.

The passenger was being held on charges of possession of a controlled substance, reckless endangerment and conspiracy, Hicks said. Two crew members and a passenger were treated by medical workers after the flight landed.

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