LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Los Angeles police officer and a 31-year-old woman were charged Monday in an attempt to smuggle a man into the United States.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers stopped a white 2014 Nissan Juke at the Otay Mesa California border around 6:30 p.m. Saturday, officials said.
Carlos Curiel Quezada Jr., the 34-year-old driver, and Angelica Godinez, a woman sitting his passenger seat, presented their passports to a Border Patrol officer and claimed to be traveling to Mission Hills. The officer then referred them aside for further inspection.
The vehicle was inspected with a Z-Portal, a nonintrusive imaging device similar to an X-ray, that detected “anomalies” in the rear portion.
“CBP officers searched the car and found a 26-year-old man hidden in the rear cargo area,” Jackie Wasiluk from the Border Patrol public affairs office said. “The man is a Mexican citizen with no legal ability to enter the United States.”
Authorities identified the man hidden in the spare tire area of the vehicle as Antanasio Perez-Avalos.
Quezada and Godinez were arrested Sunday evening and were booked into the Metropolitan Correctional Center.
According to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office, they were each charged with one federal count of “bringing in illegal alien without presentation.”
The federal prison showed Quezada and Godinez were no longer in custody Monday evening. It’s believed they posted bail.
A LAPD spokesperson says an internal investigation is ongoing.
“Immediately we sent his commanding officer down there to meet with him and to meet with the folks from Customs and border enforcement,” Cmdr. Andrew Smith said. “Immediately he was pulled out of duty, so he won’t be returning to duty until the case has been adjudicated both in the criminal side and on the department side.”
KNX 1070 Newsradio’s Pete Demetriou confirmed the officer works out of the Hollywood division.