LAX Mechanic Accused Smuggling Immigrants

Los Angeles, CA, USA Longtime LAX employee Roberto Amaya Canchola, 53, was arrested at the airport on Aug. 23 by federal immigration agents, the Los Angeles Times reported in a story posted on its Web site Wednesday night.

Authorities believe Canchola, of North Hills, had led at least 15 illegal immigrants out of the airport before they had gone through immigration and customs inspection and was part of a larger smuggling operation.

"We don't know at this time how big it is," said Louis Rodi, assistant special agent in charge of immigration and customs investigations at LAX. "We believe he is not the biggest player."

Rodi believes the larger organization used Canchola for his access to, and knowledge of the airport.

He "knew security and he knew where the holes were on any given day," Rodi said.

All the illegal immigrants Canchola is suspected of smuggling arrived on Mexicana flights from Guanajuato, Mexico, officials said. Two of them had criminal records and had previously been deported.

A federal affidavit said Canchola could be seen on surveillance video on July 19 and 26 taking a total of six passengers without luggage through a terminal exit to a taxi without going through customs.

Canchola's attorney Paul Horgan declined to comment.

Canchola has been released on $100,000 bond and is scheduled to return to court Sept. 15, prosecutors said.

The U.S. Attorney's Office and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement were still investigating.

Canchola had worked for the airport for all but one year since 1989, and had undergone a background check as recently as April of this year.

Airport spokeswoman Nancy Castles said it was the first time officials could remember a city employee arrested for smuggling at the airport.


abc30 News Links:
Links to other news sections on our website.


Breaking News Alerts:
Click Here to Sign-Up for Breaking News E-Mail Alerts
Receive Breaking News alerts in your email inbox.

Click Here to Sign-Up for Text Message Alerts
Receive Breaking News alerts right on your cell phone.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.