Montaña de Oro panga boat smuggling defendants all plead guilty

ppemberton@thetribunenews.comJuly 30, 2013 

The 14 adults charged with trying to smuggle $1.3 million worth of marijuana in a panga boat found off the beaches of Montaña de Oro State Park in May have all entered guilty pleas, according to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office.

All but one pleaded to conspiracy to transport marijuana. Carlos Espinoza, meanwhile, pleaded to transporting marijuana.

The 35-foot-long panga boat was discovered May 29 after San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s deputies noticed suspicious activity around the park. According to the grand jury indictment, seven of the defendants unloaded marijuana off the boat while five others left the park in a vehicle that contained a handgun, walkie-talkie and two GPS units.

Fifteen suspects, including a juvenile, were later arrested. Several of the suspects were American; others were from Mexico and Central America.

Jessica Garcia, the first to enter a plea, is set to be sentenced Aug. 8.

The suspects face from two to five years in prison.

The panga was the fifth such boat found on local beaches since May 2012.

Besides Garcia and Espinoza, the other defendants entering pleas are Francisco Diaz-Garcia, Jose Mendoza, Simon Escobar-Quiroz, Mario Baguada, Waldo Rodriguez, Eric Carrillo, David Tenas, Hector Augustine, Juan Cruz, Valter Augustin, Jesus Gonzalez and Eugenio Bonilla.


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