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CNS - A longtime elevator mechanic at LAX has been charged with smuggling illegal immigrants into the United States by leading them out of the terminal before they were inspected by federal authorities, it was recently reported. Roberto Amaya Canchola, 53, was arrested at the airport Aug. 23 after a sting operation involving federal immigration agents, the Los Angeles Times reported. Authorities believe the North Hills resident smuggled in at least 15 illegal immigrants, including two with criminal records who had previously been deported.
They all arrived on Mexicana flights from Guanajuato, Mexico, according to officials quoted by The Times. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. attorney’s office are still investigating the allegations. Agents believe that Canchola was only one player in a larger smuggling organization and that he probably was used for his airport access, The Times reported.
Canchola, a city employee for 23 years, had been cleared by both the airport and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to access restricted area, Nancy Castles, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles World Airports, the city agency that runs LAX, told The Times. His annual salary as an elevator mechanic is nearly $81,000.