An elevator mechanic employed at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) was indicted by a federal grand jury on smuggling charges September 12th.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Roberto Amaya Canchola, 53, of North Hills on August 23rd after he was caught allegedly smuggling immigrants from Mexico into the United States.
Agents observed Canchola allegedly leading passengers on several occasions in July and August from Mexicana Airlines flights through Tom Bradley International Terminal and into taxis, according to court records.
The arrest was part of a sting operation conducted by federal agents targeting smugglers at the airport .
Canchola, who had worked at LAX for over 20 years and had a security access card, faces six counts of bringing illegal immigrants into the United States for private financial gain and of failing to present the immigrants to federal authorities for screening.
All international passengers arriving at the Bradley terminal must go through the federal inspection service area, where officials check their passports and baggage before the travelers are allowed into the United States.
Security has been upgraded at the airport’s inspection areas since Canchola was arrested, said Mike Fleming, a Customs and Border Protection spokesman.
“We have reviewed the situation and made security adjustments in the federal inspection service area,” Fleming told the Los Angeles Times. “You try your best to make the necessary changes after these things happen.”
If convicted, Canchola could serve a maximum of ten years in prison on each count.