SAN DIEGO (CN) – Federal prosecutors charged three men with alien smuggling, alleging that they operated a 24-foot boat that was found 12 miles offshore San Diego with 15 people in it, having drifted for “several days” without food or water. A private vessel spotted the boat on Wednesday and reported it to the border patrol.
Prosecutors say Octavio Ruiz-Gomez, Jorge Enrique Acuna Betancourt and Jorge Leonard Ames Barr operated the boat. They and their 12 passengers all are citizens of Mexico. If convicted of alien smuggling for financial gain, the three men each face a 3-year mandatory minimum sentence, a maximum sentence of 10 years, and a $250,000 fine.