A Los Angeles police officer and his girlfriend were indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday for allegedly trying to smuggle a Mexican citizen hidden in the trunk of a car into the United States, officials said.
LAPD Officer Carlos Curiel Quezada Jr., 34, and his girlfriend, Angelica Godinez, 31, both of Los Angeles are each charged with one count of bringing an undocumented immigrant without presentation, according to the U.S. District Court indictment.
The offense carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and carries a $250,000 fine.
The indictment alleges that Quezada, a 10-year LAPD veteran, and Godinez were stopped about 6:30 p.m. on March 14 as they drove through the Otay Mesa border crossing in San Diego.
At the border, the couple showed their U.S. passports and said they were headed to Mission Hills.
They told a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer that they had nothing to declare, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in San Diego.
But the officer was not convinced, so the pair was sent to an inspection area.
Using an imaging device similar to an X-ray to examine Quezada's car, officers detected something unusual in the trunk.
Officers opened the trunk and discovered 26-year-old Antanasio Perez Avalos hiding in the spare tire compartment.
Perez Avalos is a Mexican citizen and did not have authorization to enter the U.S., according to the indictment.
Quezada, Godinez and Perez Avalos were immediately arrested. The government's previous charges -- which were similar -- against the couple were dropped for the grand jury indictment.
Following his arrest, Quezada was assigned to his home on paid administrative leave as the LAPD moves forward with an internal investigation, Det. Meghan Aguilar said.
Quezada was stationed at the department’s Hollywood Division.
His arraignment is set for Thursday in San Diego.
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