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LOS ANGELES, May 6 ― A federal court in California yesterday filed charges against a US citizen after the smuggling boat he piloted ran aground, killing three and injuring 29 others.
The boat, which crashed on Sunday, was carrying migrants attempting to enter the United States illegally from Mexico.
US citizen Antonio Hurtado was at the helm of a 12-foot vessel when it ran aground and broke up, forcing the people on board to abandon ship and jump into the water, according to documents from a court in San Diego.
Hurtado faces felony charges of attempting to bring foreigners illegally onto US soil and of assaulting a federal agent during his arrest.
Three Mexicans ― two men ages 29 and 35, and a 41 year-old woman ― were killed when the boat sank.
Hurtado and 29 other boat occupants were rushed to a hospital, where two remained yesterday.
According to court documents, the migrants said they paid between US$15,000 and US$18,000 to try to sneak into the country, and identified Hurtado as the boat captain.
“Smugglers don't care about the people they're exploiting,” Jeffery Stephenson of the Customs and Border Protection Public Affairs Office told reporters on Sunday.
“All they care about is profit. They had inadequate safety equipment and obviously this vessel was severely overcrowded.”
The United States is seeing a rise in undocumented crossings at its border with Mexico, with 172,000 arrests in March, a level not seen in 15 years. ― AFP
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