Panga boat suspect skips out on sentencing hearing

jhickey@thetribunenews.comAugust 12, 2013 

The first of 14 adults to be sentenced for trying to smuggle $1.3 million worth of marijuana onto a Montaña de Oro State Park beach did now show up at court Monday.

Jessica Garcia, 29, failed to appear at her sentencing, and a bench warrant was issued, according to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office.

On June 12, Garcia pleaded no contest to a count of conspiracy to transport marijuana and was released on her own recognizance with credit for time served — on the condition that she show up for her sentencing.

Because she failed to appear, her credit for time served could be replaced with a sentence of up to three years in prison.

A 35-foot long panga boat was discovered May 29 after county Sheriff's Office deputies noticed suspicious activity around Montaña de Oro.

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

The 13 other adults charged with trying to smuggle have all entered guilty pleas and face from two to five years in prison.

The other defendants are Carlos Felipe Espinoza, 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.

The panga was the fifth such boat found on local beaches since May 2012. A sixth was discovered in a remote cove north of Piedras Blancas Light Station on July 14.

Gallery: Click here to see more photos of the panga boat and the scene at Montaña de Oro »

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