A federal prosecutor has won guilty plea agreements from two of seven men arrested in February by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents for attempting to smuggle nearly 1,200 pounds of marijuana on a boat from Mexico to Laguna Beach.
Kevin Anthony Gilbert and Francisco Javier Chavez, both Los Angeles residents, acknowledge they agreed with co-conspirators to check into the Sandpiper Motel in Costa Mesa before driving in the middle of the night on Pacific Coast Highway to unload marijuana from a 30-foot panga boat headed to waters off Crystal Cove State Beach.
For their roles in the crime that was immediately unraveled by federal agents, Gilbert and Chavez (respectively born in 1980 and 1981) agreed to a pay of $1,000, according to an ICE report.
Sentencing guidelines call for a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison for both men, but that's an imaginary outcome especially given that they acknowledged guilt prior to a trial inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse.
U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter will consider punishment recommendations from defense lawyers, the U.S. Probation Office and Assistant United States Attorney Vibhav Mittal, who is prosecuting the case.
All but one of the defendants are relying on taxpayer-funded criminal defense lawyers, according to court records.