A federal judge in Orange County has punished an international drug smuggler and human trafficker who targeted San Clemente, Laguna Beach and Dana Point as his points of illegal entry into the United States.
Sergio Ramos-Atondo, a 37-year-ol Mexican national, will serve 97 months in federal prison for his major role in the April 2011 attempt to bring 740 pounds of marijuana by panga-style boat to the waters off San Clemente.
The scheme involved using a hotel room at the San Clemente Inn as a staging point.
Atondo, who'd been caught in a previous scheme to smuggle illegal immigrants into Laguna Beach via boat, is one of seven defendants in the case that was solved by on-the-ball U.S. Border Patrol agents who are assigned to monitor suspicious, middle of the night boating activities off Orange County's coast.
U.S. District Judge Josephine Staton Tucker gave–Ramon Uriel Lizarraga Verdugo and Ramiro Gallegos–two other smugglers in the case 18 months and 33 months of incarceration, respectively.
The four remaining defendants, all represented by taxpayer-paid defense lawyers, await sentencing.
R. Scott Moxley’s award-winning investigative journalism has touched nerves for two decades. An angry congressman threatened to break Moxley’s knee caps. A dirty sheriff promised his critical reporting was irrelevant and then landed in prison. The U.S. House of Representatives debated his work. Federal prosecutors credited his stories for the arrest of a doctor who sold fake medicine to dying patients. Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing Southern California law enforcement corruption.