U.S. Coast Guard Intercepts Mexican Human Smuggling Operation Near Dana Point
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Haddock
A late June United States Coast Guard (USCG) surveillance operation resulted this month in a federal grand jury indictment of two Mexicans for conspiring "to bring aliens" into Southern California on a panga boat.
Using advanced technology, USCG officers spotted an unidentified vessel traveling north off the coast of San Diego at 2 a.m. on June 22. About 100 minutes later, two agency cutters--the Haddock and Sea Lion--intercepted the boat without incident 16 nautical miles west of Dana Point.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) investigation determined that two of the 11 foreign nationals on the boat--Artemio Guzman-Lopez and Fabian Reyes-Rosas--participated in the smuggling operation that originated in the Tijuana area and charged fellow Mexicans amounts ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 per person to make the voyage.
Although the USCG has occasionally found horrible conditions on smuggling boats (particularly a lack of water, food, fuel and life preservers), this operation didn't short-change the travelers except for its ultimate failure, according to an ICE report.
Some of the passengers told agents they wanted to come to the U.S. to obtain work; others indicated they wanted to visit family. Because none of the individuals had valid immigration papers, they were sent to the San Clemente Border Patrol station for processing.
In federal custody in Santa Ana without bail, Guzman-Lopez, who was born in 1975, and Reyes-Rosa, who was born in 1983, must face charges contained in a 19-count indictment as well as potential lengthy prison sentences if convicted.
No word yet what presidential candidate Donald Trump makes of the affair; apparently there were no rapists on the boat.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Orange County, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.