Los Angeles police officer charged with smuggling man into U.S. from Mexico

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 16, 2015 10:19 PM

By Marty Graham

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - A 10-year Los Angeles police department veteran who was arrested at the U.S. border in San Diego with a Mexican man lacking immigration documentation was arraigned on smuggling charges in federal court on Monday.

Los Angeles Police Department officer Carlos Curiel Quezada Jr., 34, and Angelica Godinez, 31, pleaded not guilty to one count each of smuggling in the U.S. District Court in San Diego, court documents showed. Bail was set for Quezada at $20,000.

Quezada was placed on paid home leave pending the department's internal investigation, Los Angeles police spokeswoman Rosario Herrera said.

Quezada and Godinez crossed into the U.S. on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. through the Otay Mesa Port of Entry, failing to present the man to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer, according to a complaint filed in federal court.

The pair, who said they were headed to Mission Hills, northwest of Los Angeles, were sent to secondary inspection after an imaging device detected anomalies in the rear cargo area of the Nissan Juke that Quezada was driving, according to a probable cause statement.

Inspectors found Antanasio Perez-Avalos, a Mexican citizen without legal documents to enter the United States, in the spare tire compartment, the probable cause statement said.

The smuggling charge comes as a rookie Los Angeles police officer was being sought on suspicion of murder on Monday in the fatal Southern California shooting of another man in a bar district, and authorities warned that he was considered armed and dangerous.

On Sunday, two Los Angeles police officers suffered minor injuries when they were shot at while traveling through south Los Angeles.

(Reporting by Marty Graham in San Diego; Editing by Eric M. Johnson and Ken Wills)