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Reserve deputy smuggled illegal immigrants into U.S., officials say

April 19, 2013|By Tony Perry

SAN DIEGO -- A reserve deputy with the Imperial County Sheriff's Department has been arrested on suspicion of smuggling illegal immigrants into the U.S., officials said.

Elizabeth Hernandez, 23, of El Centro, was arrested Wednesday after being spotted by Border Patrol agents smuggling three illegal immigrants past a checkpoint on Highway 86 near Salton City, prosecutors said.

The three were in the trunk of Hernandez's personal car, according to prosecutors. She was wearing her uniform and carrying her department-issued firearm, court documents indicate.

Hernandez admitted to agents that she has smuggled immigrants about eight times and has been paid more than $40,000 by the leader of a smuggling operation, according to court documents.

She allegedly told agents she wore her uniform "because she expected to be waived" through the checkpoint as a result.

A co-defendant, Edna Calderon, 22, of El Centro, was arrested in connection with the same incident, officials said.

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tony.perry@latimes.com

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