California News

May 13, 2014 10:10 AM by Associated Press

Man gets prison for human-smuggling operation

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) - A man who took part in an attempt to smuggle 20 people by boat from Mexico into Orange County has been sentenced to 30 months in prison.

The Orange County Register reported Monday that Jose Ricardo Paleta Tula was arrested along with three other men last June after a 25-foot boat landed at Crystal Cove State Park in Laguna Beach. Court documents say the Tula was on shore, signaling with the light of his cell phone where the boat should land.

The 44-year-old reached a plea deal with prosecutors last August.

After authorities spotted the vessel on shore, they searched the area and ultimately took 24 people into custody, many of them in wetsuits and with flotation devices.

Two other defendants are serving sentences in federal prisons. A fourth defendant is scheduled to be sentenced next week.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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