A man alleged to have captained a boat that fell apart and killed three people from the San Diego coast was indicted by a federal grand jury in what authorities said Wednesday was a growing number of deaths in migrant smuggling efforts along California’s border with Mexico.
Antonio Hurtado pleaded not guilty Tuesday to smuggling charges, weeks later he was detained at the May 2 mess once a cabin cruiser packed with 33 individuals shattered on the rocky shore of San Diego’s Point Loma peninsula.
Hurtado’s citizenship and age weren’t revealed in court filings but police have said the captain was a U.S. citizen. His lawyer, Melissa Bobrow, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment late Wednesday afternoon.
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Exactly two months earlier, 13 Mexican and Guatemalan citizens in an overloaded SUV were killed when struck by a tractor-trailer from the remote desert community of Holtville
Police say 25 migrants died in smuggling attempts on California’s border with Mexico from October through April, compared to 29 for the preceding 12-month period. Representatives of several law enforcement agencies pleaded with migrants at a news conference Wednesday to prevent the dangerous journey, stating smugglers’ sole concern was profits.