Pico-Union man accused of trying to smuggle heroin in Christmas wrapping at LAX

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A man from the Pico-Union area of Los Angeles was busted for allegedly trying to smuggle heroin wrapped in Christmas wrapping at Los Angeles International Airport.

Prosecutors filed federal drug trafficking charges on Thursday against 25-year old James Mitchell after they said he attempted to smuggle more than 2 pounds of heroin through a security checkpoint on Dec. 10.

Officials said Mitchell was attempting to board a flight to Cincinnati, and he left the airport after a hazmat team was called to the scene.

An inspection of his bag revealed "six packages of a suspicious gray brittle concrete-like substance," one of which later tested positive for heroin. The packages were wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Investigators tracked Mitchell down at his Pico-Union home on Wednesday and took him into custody. After his arrest, investigators confirmed Mitchell was an employee of Aero Port Services at LAX and had "direct access to secure areas of the airport."

Investigators were testing the other five packages to confirm the presence of heroin in them as well. The total weight of all six packages was about 14 pounds.

Mitchell may face a maximum of 40 years in prison for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute heroin and possession with the intent to distribute heroin.

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