A Los Angeles Police Department officer was arrested over the weekend and later charged for allegedly trying to smuggle a man into the U.S. from Mexico, authorities said Monday.
The 34-year-old police officer was stopped at the Otay Mesa border crossing at about 6:30 p.m. Saturday, according to Jackie Wasiluk with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The officer was driving a white 2014 Nissan Juke, with a 31-year-old woman in the passenger seat, according to Wasiluk.
The officer was later identified in a federal criminal complaint as Carlos Curiel Quezada Jr. He is an officer with LAPD’s Hollywood Division, KTLA sister station KSWB in San Diego reported.
The woman was identified as Angelica Godinez. The pair said they were going to Mission Hills, the criminal complaint states.
The officer and the passenger, who are both U.S. citizens, were asked to go through a Z-Portal imaging device after showing their passports to a CBP officer, Wasiluk said.
The device, which is similar to an X-ray, detected something in the rear cargo area of the SUV, according to Wasiluk.
CBP officers searched the vehicle and found a 26-year-old man hidden in the rear cargo area. The man was a Mexican citizen with no legal ability to enter the U.S., Wasiluk said.
Federal court documents identified the stowaway passenger as Antanasio Perez-Avalos.
The LAPD officer and the passenger of the SUV were both arrested, Wasiluk said. They were charged Monday.
CBP officers also seized the vehicle, according to Wasiluk.
Quezada appeared in federal court in San Diego Monday, when his bail was set at $20,000. When Quezada claimed not to have any funds to pay an attorney, the judge assigned him to a public defender, according to KSWB.
Once he posts bail, the officer has been ordered to live with his parents in Los Angeles and not to drink. He also must surrender his passport, KSWB reported.
Quezada and Godinez were charged with bringing an illegal alien into the U.S. without presenting him to an immigration officer.