Port of Los Angeles cracks down on security after wild chase

SAN PEDRO, Calif. (KABC) -- There's a new security crackdown at the Port of Los Angeles in the wake of a wild chase involving a car thief who drove into the area unhindered and unchecked through open gates.

Last Thursday, 23-year-old James Llamas allegedly stole a vehicle and led police on a chase across the city.

He made his way to the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, sped through a container terminal, jumped out of the still-moving car and climbed a 160-foot crane.

Hours later, he fell to his death.

"It notified us there is a problem on the waterfront," said Mark Mendoza, who represents Local 13 Longshoreman Union. "It could've got pretty crazy. We could've stopped him, but you don't know what he had, don't know if he carried a pistol, had any kind of weapons on him, anything."

Now, there are new barriers that line the same road traveled by the suspect. Also, there are additional security guards placed at the entry gates, and they open and close the gates for traffic coming in and out.

These changes are considered "interim improvements."

"New security procedures will be adjusted by all who participate here in the port's activities," said Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles. "Cost was not a factor in determining what we needed to do to step up our security efforts."

For now, Mendoza says his workers feel confident.

"We don't want any problems like this to happen again in the future," he said.

The guards posted at the port gates are private security guards and are not armed. Port of Los Angeles officials said arming the guards is not necessary because the port has its own police force, and the LAPD and the U.S. Coast Guard all work in the area.
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