A boat captain of a smuggling vessel that capsized off Point Loma, ending in the deaths of three migrants, has pleaded guilty.
Antonio Hurtado, a 40-year-old U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty Wednesday in San Diego federal court to felony charges of attempted human smuggling resulting in death and attempted human smuggling for financial gain relating to each of the migrants who died.
Hurtado was trying to smuggle 32 migrants into the U.S. aboard his black 40-foot trawler-style boat, the Salty Lady, when the wreck occurred May 2 about 50 feet off Point Loma. It was mid-morning on a Sunday, and sightseers at Cabrillo National Monument and the tidepools below watched the boat capsize in horror.
The survivors told authorities they had paid $15,000 to $18,000 to be smuggled into the U.S. and identified Hurtado as the pilot of the boat, according to the criminal complaint. U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman called Hurtado’s recklessness “incomprehensible and stunning.”
(Photo Getty Images)