Join our brand new verified AMN Telegram channel and get important news uncensored!

Federal charges filed against alleged boat captain in deadly smuggling wreck off San Diego coast

Debris is littered along the shoreline off Cabrillo Monument on May 2, 2021, in San Diego, California. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images/TNS)

A man accused of piloting the boat that broke up on the rocks of Point Loma in a deadly human smuggling attempt has been charged in San Diego federal court, according to a complaint filed Wednesday.

Antonio Hurtado faces charges of attempting to bring in undocumented migrants at a place other than a port of entry and assault on a federal officer, both felonies.

4 people died and 25 people were rescued and hospitalized after a 40-foot cabin cruiser suspected in smuggling operation overturned off Point Loma on May 2, 2021. (San Diego Fire-Rescue/ZUMA Wire/TNS)

According to the complaint, several of the 29 survivors identified Hurtado in a photo lineup as the captain of the 40-foot trawler-style boat that ran aground about 50 feet offshore and broke apart on the rocks below Cabrillo National Monument midmorning Sunday. Many families visiting the iconic lighthouse and tide pools watched the horror unfold, and some bystanders joined the massive rescue effort.

Three passengers suffered blunt-force injuries and drowned — Victor Perez Degollado, 29; Maria Eugenia Chavez Segovia, 41; and Maricela Hernandez Sanchez, 35. All were from Mexico, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Two passengers — a Guatemalan man and an unidentified Mexican man — remained hospitalized, the latter with critical injuries, according to the court affidavit signed Tuesday.

All but one of the 28 additional passengers, all from Mexico, are now in federal custody as material witnesses in the case.

The court documents did not give additional details as to Hurtado’s alleged role in the smuggling incident. It was unclear when he would make an initial appearance in court. Hurtado’s age, city of residence and citizenship status were not disclosed in court documents.

Authorities have previously said the suspected captain is a U.S. citizen.

The assault charge stems from allegations that Hurtado struck a Border Patrol agent in the head with his knee while being shackled at the ankle, the complaint states.

Many of the passengers told authorities that they paid $15,000 to $18,000 to be smuggled into the United States, according to the complaint.


(c) 2021 The San Diego Union-Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.