La Jolla-area smuggling case nets 3-year prison term for boat operator
by Neal Putnam
Jun 20, 2012 | 1512 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The pilot of a boat who unsuccessfully smuggled 14 illegal immigrants off La Jolla was sentenced Monday to three years in federal prison.

Angel Rincon-Diaz, 40, was given the term by U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Huff. Both the prosecutor and defense attorney agreed on recommending the 36-month term. The maximum term was five years.

Lazaro Tapia-Pacheco, 41, was sentenced May 7 to 21 months in prison for helping Rincon-Diaz in the operation. Both men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bring undocumented immigrants into the U.S. for financial gain and to unlawful smuggling.

The Coast Guard stopped a boat on April 5, 2011 at 3:30 a.m. west of La Jolla and discovered there were 14 unlawful immigrants who had paid smugglers fees for the unsuccessful venture. The immigrants were eventually deported.

There were not enough life preservers for 14 people aboard, according to court records. There have been fatalities in similar marine smuggling ventures, but no one was injured in this case.
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