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Delta flight attendant arrested in Miami alongside boyfriend as he faces federal drug trafficking charges

A pair of Delta flight attendants travelling from Brazil were arrested after a random stop through security in Miami showed that they were in “possession and transportation of narcotics”, the US Customs and Border Protection said.

Marcelo Chaves, 44, a flight attendant with Delta, appeared in court on Thursday, just days after he’d been arrested alongside his live-in boyfriend, Ronald Maldonado, 35, where he now faces federal felony drug trafficking charges.

Mr Chaves’ boyfriend, who was originally arrested alongside him on Tuesday when the pair were searched at Miami International Airport after arriving on an American Airlines flight from Brazil, is now listed as a co-defendant in the case.

According to the arrest form, Mr Chaves and his boyfriend were making their way through customs after arriving at the South Florida airport when the pair were reportedly randomly stopped for a search, Local News 10 reported.

While going through the couple’s luggage, border officials uncovered two glass cosmetic bottles stocked full with what was later confirmed to be liquid Ketamine and GBL, a GHB substitute, as well as 41 pills of Methamphetamine, NBC News 6 reported.

When the pair were arrested, they reportedly told investigators that they didn’t know how the illicit substances had made their way tucked inside their travel bags but confirmed that they had been “doing drugs in Brazil”.

In response to the two off-duty flight attendants’ arrest, Delta Airlines issued a statement insisting that they were working alongside law enforcement and that the pair of employees were on suspension while the investigation was being carried out.

Marcelo Chaves, 44, and Ronald Maldonado, 35, were arrested at the Miami International Airport Tuesday on drug trafficking charges, according to Miami-Dade Police arrest reports (Local 10 News/video screengrab)
Marcelo Chaves, 44, and Ronald Maldonado, 35, were arrested at the Miami International Airport Tuesday on drug trafficking charges, according to Miami-Dade Police arrest reports (Local 10 News/video screengrab)

“Delta continually cooperates with law enforcement entities and the two off-duty flight attendants in question have been suspended pending outcome of an investigation,” the statement from Delta Airlines read.

Mr Chaves and Mr Maldonado, who are both New York residents, were arrested on drug trafficking charges but only Mr Chaves appeared in a South Florida courtroom on Thursday where the judge informed him that he would be held on a $115,000 bond.

He will also be required to attend a court-ordered Nebbia hearing – also known as a bail source hearing – where a judge determines whether the funds used to post bail are from legal resources.

“You have to show the money used to post our bond is from a legitimate source of funds,” the judge told Mr Chaves, Local 10 News reported.