A Los Angeles Police Department officer was federally charged Wednesday with allegedly smuggling undocumented immigrants into the United States, court documents show.
Mambasse Koulabalo Patara, identified as a 42-year-old LAPD officer of 10 years, was accused of smuggling two Mexican citizens near the area of Pine Valley, California, the complaint states.
The LAPD said he is currently off the job due to his arrest, and on home stay in Rancho Cucamonga.
Patara, along with Fermin Lopez and German Ramirez-Gonzalez, were pulled over near the Tecate, California port of entry Tuesday.
Top news of the day
Border patrol agents said they pulled over the black Toyota Corolla at 12:15 a.m., and Patara was behind the wheel.
The agents said Patara seemed nervous, and told them he was a U.S. citizen and an LAPD officer. He said the three men were on their way back to the LA region after gambling at Golden Acorn Casino, court documents state.
Patara told the agent Lopez, who was asleep in the passenger seat, was a U.S. citizen, the complaint states. The agent then woke Lopez and asked him if he was indeed a citizen, and Lopez answered "yes," but the agent said he seemed to not understand the question.
He repeated the question in Spanish, and Lopez said he was a citizen but didn't have any ID on him, court documents show.
The agent said both men seemed nervous so he asked them to pull into an inspection area, where Patara told the agent that he was carrying a weapon because he was an officer.
After the agent checked the immigration status of Lopez and Ramirez-Gonzalez, Lopez's nephew, he deduced they were not in the country legally, court documents show.
The agents arrested all three men at 1:30 a.m., the complaint states.
The complaint then says both men admitted to being in the country illegally.
Lopez said the two had entered the U.S. illegally and walked for a half day before getting to the casino, where Ramirez-Gonzalez said he met a stranger who he convinced give them a ride, court documents state. Ramirez-Gonzalez however said he and Lopez crossed the border April 22, and that he had known Patara for five years, the complaint states.
Patara is set to appear before a judge Thursday. He faces a maximum penalty of five years, and a $250,000 fine.