Los Angeles police officer pleads not guilty to charges of attempted smuggling

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Los Angeles police Officer Carlos Curiel Quezada, Jr., and his girlfriend, Angelica Godinez, pleaded not guilty Thursday on charges that they attempted to smuggle a Mexican citizen into the United States in the trunk of Quezada’s car at the Otay Mesa border crossing in March.

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. 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.

During the inspection, officers examined the car with the Z-Portal, a non-intrusive imaging device similar to an X-ray, and detected something unusual in the rear cargo area of the vehicle. Antanasio Perez Avalos, a 26-year-old Mexican national, was found in a compartment in the spare-tire area. All three individuals were then taken into custody and interviewed.

Two days later, Quezada and Godinez were charged in a one-count complaint with Bringing in Illegal Aliens without Presentation. On March 19, 2015, the government’s motion to dismiss the complaint, without prejudice, was granted.

The pair was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday on the same charge – Bringing in Illegal Aliens without Presentation. Quezada is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment May 7 at 2:00 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge William Gallo and Godinez on May 12 at 9:00 am before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara L. Major.

Quezada was arraigned today before U.S. Magistrate Judge William Gallo, who set bail at $20,000. The judge ordered Quezada to return to court June 12 for a motion and trial-setting hearing. Quezada’s attorney said his client is on paid administrative leave with the LAPD.

Godinez is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday.

Quezada and Godinez, both Los Angeles residents, each face a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

Categories: KUSI