SAN DIEGO -- A Los Angeles police officer pleaded not guilty Friday to smuggling two Mexican nationals in East San Diego County.
Mambasse Koulabalo Patara was arrested at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Campo Border Patrol Checkpoint, about 12 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border.
The court documents claim Patara told Border Patrol agents he was an off-duty officer and showed them his LAPD identification.
Patara had two men inside his black Toyota Corolla and appeared to be very nervous, shaking and avoiding eye contact, the Border Patrol said.
Agents seized Patara's service pistol from his waistband after he told them he was armed.
Patara was taken into custody after authorities say two of the men inside the vehicle admitted they were not U.S. citizens.
Fermin Lopez and his nephew, German Ramirez-Gonzalez, admitted to being citizens of Mexico.
At his arraignment, Patara pleaded not guilty. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted.