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LAPD cop busted for human smuggling

May 2, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
LAPD cop busted for human smuggling

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Los Angeles Police officer Mambasse Koulabalo Patara, pleaded not guilty to human smuggling charges

An officer with the Los Angeles Police Department has entered a not guilty after he was charged with attempting to smuggle two Mexican immigrants into the United States.

The traffic officer, 42-year-old Mambasse Koulabalo Patara, pleaded not guilty to a single charge of transporting illegal aliens last week. He was released on bond and was required to turn in his passport and any guns that he owns.

If he is found guilty, he faces the possibility of up to five years behind bars and a $250,000 penalty.

Patara was off-duty when he was taken into custody last Tuesday morning at an immigration checkpoint in San Diego, located roughly 12 miles north of the Mexican border, CBS Local reported.

Patara and two passengers in his Toyota Corolla were stopped at the Campo Border Patrol Checkpoint just after midnight.

Agents said Patara looked nervous, was visibly shaking and avoided making eye contact. He immediately told officers that he was a cop, and provided them with his LAPD ID card.

He also told the agents that the two other individuals in the vehicle, Fermin Lopez and his nephew German Ramirez-Gonzalez, were United States citizens.

Lopez was sleeping in the back seat when they pulled into the checkpoint. An agent woke him up and asked if he was a citizen, and he said yes, even though the agent said it didn’t look like he understood the question. The agent asked him again in Spanish, and Lopez again replied that he was a citizen but that didn’t have his ID with him.

Ramirez-Gonzalez was sitting in the front and also appeared nervous. Agents added that he was continually looking away, declining to make eye contact.

The agents grew suspicious asked Patara to stop at a secondary inspection area. Patara then informed agents that he had his department-issued firearm on him. They patted him down and recovered the gun in his waistband.

LAPD officer Mambasse Koulabalo Patara was arrested for smuggling illegal immigrants across the US-Mexico border

The two men then confessed that they were in the U.S. illegally. At this point, all three men were arrested.

When interviewed by agents, Lopez and his nephew provided different accounts about how they ended up across the border.

Ramirez-Gonzalez said that he and Patara have known each other for five years, and had worked at his home in Fontana.

He said that he and his uncle traveled across the border about a week prior and both were driven to Los Angeles by another person.

That night, he says they went to Viejas Casino in Alpine and gambled for an hour before they proceeded on to the Golden Acorn Casino in Campo.

He says they departed Acorn shortly after they arrived, and drove back to L.A. around 8 pm or 9 pm.

He could not explain why the 15 to 20-minute drive between the casino and the checkpoint took three hours.

Alternatively, Lopez said that he and his nephew crossed into the country the day before, and spent a day and a half hiking over the border before they arrived at the casino. Once they arrived, he said his nephew arranged a ride with a stranger.

Neither man claims that Patara had been smuggling them.

Both individuals in federal custody and are witnesses in Patara’s case.

After the charges were filed, Patara was put on administrative leave from the department. The Internal Affairs Division is conducting an investigation.

Patara is an 11-year veteran of the department. He works in the South Traffic Division.

He is scheduled to appear back in court on May 9th.

Neighbors in Fontana were shocked to hear the news about the man.

“I heard what happened, I’m shocked,” one woman said to CBS LA. ‘They’ve always been a nice family ever since my husband and I have lived here. […] There are always multiple sides to every story, so I think that’s important for everyone to keep in mind […] before jumping to conclusions.”

“I don’t believe that he’s doing that,” another neighbor added. “I don’t believe at all that he’s capable of doing that.”

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