The federal case against a Los Angeles police officer accused of human smuggling has been “dismissed without prejudice” this week, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney in San Diego confirmed today to L.A. Weekly.
Thirty-four-year-old Carlos Curiel Quezada Jr. was arrested at the Otay Mesa border crossing March 14 after U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents allegedly found a Mexican man in a storage area of a mini SUV he was driving.
Charges also were dropped against a woman, Angelica Godinez, who was a passenger in the Nissan Juke Quezada was driving that day, according to court records.
A dismissal without prejudice means that federal prosecutors reserve the right to refile charges at a later time if they so desire.
The Los Angeles Police Department hasn't said much about the case. The U.S. Attorney's spokeswoman would only say, “I can’t comment beyond what’s in the record.”
Something prompted border agents that evening to flag Quezada's ride for a secondary inspection, where a Z-Portal X-ray-type device allegedly “detected anomalies in the rear cargo area of the vehicle,” according to a CBP statement.
Those anomalies ended up being a Mexican citizen named Antanasio Perez-Avalos, feds alleged. They said he had zero permission to be in the United States.
All three were taken into custody, and charges of bringing in and harboring an undocumented immigrant were filed.
Interestingly, the court record on the dismissal says the idea of dropping the case for now was the government's. It also says the “defendant's request to have all seized property returned” was “denied.”
This is all very mysterious to us. Was Quezada actively working a case undercover?
We reached out to attorneys for the defendants, as well as to LAPD, but had yet to hear back.