2nd person dies in alleged sea smuggling attempt - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

2nd person dies in alleged sea smuggling attempt

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — A Guatemalan woman became the second fatality in a boat packed with suspected illegal immigrants that capsized when it struck a buoy, authorities said Tuesday.

Marbilia Judith Gabriel Mejia died at Scrippos La Jolla Hospital, said hospital spokeswoman Lisa Ohmstede. She declined to disclose the time of death.

The deaths in Saturday's mishap near Torrey Pines State Beach mark the first fatalities since U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement began noting a spike in sea smuggling off the San Diego shores nearly three years ago, said agency spokeswoman Lauren Mack.

Two Mexican men, Fernando Figueroa and Javier Jimenez, pleaded not guilty to immigrant smuggling charges Tuesday in federal court in San Diego.

According to the complaint, a survivor identified them as the crew. Jimenez told investigators that he was to be paid $2,000 to help guide the boat to the United States and that he planned to return to Mexico by sea.

There were 24 suspected illegal immigrants aboard the 30-foot (9-meter) boat, including the two defendants, authorities say.

Jose Manuel Ortiz, 34, of Mexico, died Saturday from drowing, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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