It was a case so strange it was almost hard for us to believe.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials alleged that then–Los Angeles Police Department Officer Carlos Curiel Quezada Jr. tried to smuggle a Mexican man north across the border at Otay Mesa, which is in San Diego.
It happened March 14, 2015, border agents said.
When the U.S. Attorney in San Diego dismissed the allegations, we thought maybe the cop had been working a case unbeknownst to the border authorities and was ultimately cut loose.
But the matter had been turned over to a federal grand jury, and Quezada, 34, and his co-defendant, girlfriend Angelica Godinez, 31, were indicted for the alleged crime.
This week the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Diego announced that Quezada has copped to the crime. He pleaded guilty to a charge of human smuggling, prosecutors said.
Godinez, the office stated, “pleaded guilty to lying on an application for court-appointed counsel.”
Here's the feds' summary of what allegedly happened that March day:
“According to court documents, Quezada drove his 2014 Nissan Juke, with Godinez as the front-seat passenger, into the United States through the Otay Mesa Port of Entry on March 14, 2015, at about 6:30 p.m.,” the U.S. Attorney's office stated. “They presented their U.S. passports and told a Customs and Border Protection Officer they had nothing to declare. The officer decided to refer them aside for a more intensive inspection.”
There an X-ray–type imaging device helped agents discover something unusual, prosecutors said. A closer look, they said, revealed that 26-year-old Mexican Antanasio Perez-Avalos was hiding in the vehicle's spare-tire well.
Sentencing for the now-former cop was scheduled for Aug. 26. He could face 10 years behind bars as well as a $250,000 fine.
We suspect, however, that because he pleaded guilty and because he's a former officer of the law, he'll be sentenced to less time.