A former baggage handler at LAX is expected to plead guilty Friday to a federal conspiracy charge stemming from a scheme to smuggle cocaine past security as part of a nationwide drug ring.
Alberto Preciado Gutierrez, 28, is among three ex-baggage handlers accused of helping drug couriers smuggle cocaine through Los Angeles International Airport aboard commercial flights for delivery to customers on the East Coast.
At the time of his arrest two years ago, Gutierrez was a supervisory baggage handler employed by Swissport International at LAX.
Authorities seized a kilogram of cocaine from Gutierrez on Dec. 16, 2015, in a Terminal 3 restroom at LAX, where he was trying to pass the drugs to a man planning to fly to New York on a JetBlue flight, court papers show.
Co-defendant Adrian Ponce, 29, who was waiting for Gutierrez in a vehicle outside the terminal, was interviewed the next day and admitted that the pair took part in similar transactions on multiple occasions, according to federal prosecutors. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy last month.
Alberto H. Botello, 24, who like the others is from South Gate, was arrested in February 2017 and faces trial in April.
The conspiracy charge carries a possible federal prison sentence of between five and 40 years, prosecutors said.