Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mechanic at LAX smuggled illegals through giant airport

Roberto Amaya Canchola, 53, an elevator mechanic at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), has been charged with smuggling illegal immigrants into the U.S. by helping them evade federal inspectors and ushering them into taxis outside a terminal.

Canchola was indicted on three counts of making money by smuggling illegal aliens, and three counts of helping passengers skirt immigration officers. He was arrested in August after officials noticed that several passengers on the same Mexicana Airlines flight each week from Guanajuato state did not appear to be passing through customs or immigration screenings.

Agents believe Canchola was using his airport security clearance to escort passengers out of the terminal without being inspected by authorities. The passengers had boarded the plane in Mexico with fake documents, according to ICE.

Robert Schoch, special agent in charge for ICE's office of investigations in Los Angeles, said 'It is a tremendous vulnerability if you think about criminals to the worst extent, terrorists, anybody who could be brought in surreptitiously into this country. So we acted very decisively.'

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