A man who was allegedly behind the wheel of a boat that crashed near Point Loma during an apparent human-smuggling operation, killing three people and injuring more than two dozen others, was arraigned Tuesday on a federal grand jury indictment charging him with two dozen counts.
The indictment against 39-year-old Antonio Hurtado includes charges of attempted bringing in illegal aliens resulting in death and attempted bringing in illegal aliens for financial gain in connection with the deadly May 2 crash. He also remains charged with assault on a federal officer for allegedly striking a Border Patrol agent with his knee after he was arrested.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael S. Berg entered a not guilty plea on Hurtado’s behalf Tuesday morning in San Diego federal court. His next scheduled court appearance is July 9.
Two women and one man, all Mexican citizens, were killed in the wreck. They were identified as 41-year-old Maria Eugenia Chavez-Segovia, 35-year- old Maricela Hernandez Sanchez and 29-year-old Victor Perez Degollado.
Hurtado, who authorities allege was steering the vessel that capsized about 50 yards from the shore around 10 a.m., was hospitalized along with 29 others.
According to an affidavit, migrants who were aboard the boat said they paid between $15,000 and $18,500 to be smuggled into the United States and 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, leaving the agent with “slight redness on his forehead and a burning sensation.”
–City News Service