Employee caught working illegally at power plant

Posted: Updated:
By Alicia Barron By Alicia Barron

PHOENIX – An employee at the Palo Verde power plant in Phoenix was arrested for working there illegally.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Cruz Loya Alvares, 32, was taken into custody Wednesday and questioned by detectives from the Maricopa County Sheriff Department’s Human Smuggling Unit.

Arpaio said Alvares was denied access into the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station Monday because his Mexican driver’s license was expired. When Alvares returned Tuesday, he was riding in the passenger’s side of a contractor vehicle and presented a United States-issued identification card and was granted entry.

Authorities at the plant later inspected the ID further and contacted MCSO.

"To some extent security at this nuclear power plant worked but still, an illegal immigrant was permitted to gain access to this facility,” Arpaio said. “This raises the question: How safe is Palo Verde really if an illegal alien can gain access to this nation's largest nuclear power facility? This suggests to me that sadly, like our nation's borders, our most critical public utilities/installations are perhaps not nearly as safely guarded as they need to be."

Deputies said Alvares has been in the United States illegally for most of the past 15 years. He reportedly said he was deported in 2000 but paid a human smuggler to help him come back into the U.S. illegally.

Alvares allegedly admitted to being cited for driving with a suspended license last month by Mesa police.