UNITED STATES NEWS

Captains of smuggling boat that capsized off California, killing 3, sentenced to federal prison

Dec 14, 2023, 7:12 PM

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The captains of a boat that capsized off the California coast last year while smuggling migrants out of Mexico, killing three people, were sentenced Thursday to federal prison.

Jorge Armando Preciado-Vasquez, 30, and Alexis Martinez-Preciado, 20, were given more than 4 years each in prison, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office.

The men, both Mexican residents, were sentenced for smuggling.

Authorities said they were piloting a boat containing seven adults and a child over Thanksgiving weekend in 2022 when it overturned off Imperial Beach, several miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border.

A 39-year-old woman and a 47-year-old man from Mexico drowned along with a still-unidentified young woman from Guatemala, authorities said.

Hundreds of maritime smuggling operations occur every year off California’s coast. Attempts to smuggle migrants into the U.S. from Mexico by both land and sea have claimed numerous lives.

In March, eight people died when two boats overturned off the coast of San Diego.

In July, a Mexican man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for coordinating a smuggling effort that left 13 people dead when their overloaded SUV was struck by a big-rig near Holtville after crossing the border into California two years ago.

And earlier this month, eight people died when the driver of a car suspected of carrying smuggled migrants fled police and smashed into an oncoming vehicle on a South Texas highway.

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Captains of smuggling boat that capsized off California, killing 3, sentenced to federal prison