The alleged captain of a boat that capsized near Point Loma during an apparent human-smuggling operation made his initial court appearance Thursday.
Three people died while more than two dozen others suffered injuries.
According to a complaint filed in San Diego federal court, Antonio Hurtado, a U.S. citizen, steered the vessel that crashed about 50 yards from shore around 10 a.m. Sunday. He faces charges of attempting to bring in of aliens at other than a port of entry and assault on a federal officer.
During Hurtado’s brief court appearance, the U.S. Attorney’s Office moved to have him detained, alleging that he is a flight risk and danger to the community. The court scheduled a Tuesday detention hearing, during which attorneys will argue whether his custodial status should be changed.
Two women and one man, all Mexican citizens, died in Sunday’s wreck. The San Diego County medical examiner identified them Tuesday as Maria Eugenia Chavez-Segovia, 41; Maricela Hernandez Sanchez, 35, and Victor Perez Degollado, 29.
Authorities sent Hurtado, 39, and 29 others to hospitals for treatment.
According to an affidavit, migrants aboard the boat said they paid between $15,000 and $18,500 to be smuggled into the U.S. They identified Hurtado as the vessel’s captain.
The filing also alleges that while Border Patrol agents attempted to shackle Hurtado at the ankle at the Imperial Beach Border Patrol Station, he struck an agent in the head with his knee. The incident, prosecutors allege, left the agent with “slight redness on his forehead and a burning sensation.”
Customs and Border Protection Supervisory Officer Javier Garcia said lifeguards were notified of a vessel experiencing trouble near the tidepools at Cabrillo National Monument. The reporting party initially told dispatchers one person was on board.
A rescue boat responded, but minutes later, the 40-foot trawler-style vessel crashed into the rocky shoreline near the monument and capsized, according to the Border Patrol.
All the occupants jumped in the water as the boat slowly disintegrated, a bystander’s video showed.