LAPD officer arrested for smuggling illegal immigrants across US-Mexico border

A Los Angeles Police Department officer was busted by the U.S. Border Patrol on Tuesday after he was caught trying to smuggle two illegal immigrants into the U.S.

Officer Mambasse Koulabalo Patara was charged Wednesday with “violating immigration laws” and could face up to five years in prison if convicted, CBS2 reported.

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The officer was driving Tuesday morning when he hit a checkpoint in Pine Valley about 12 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. U.S. Border Patrol agents interviewed Patara and two male passengers in his vehicle. Patara showed agents his badge and said he was off duty. When he was patted down, agents discovered his “service issued gun in his waistband,” the complaint stated.

Patara told border patrol agents that the two passengers in his vehicle, Herman Lopez and his nephew German Ramirez Gonzalez, were U.S. citizens. However, the two men admitted they were in the U.S. illegally.

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One of the men told agents he has known the LAPD officer for years and was employed by him to work on his home in Fontana. The men were on their way back from a casino in Alpine and were on their way to another one in Campo at the time of the checkpoint.

The three men were taken to the Campo Border Patrol Station and arrested.

The LAPD told CBS2 that Patara was placed on paid administrative leave.