Woman faces prison for smuggling illegal immigrants by sea

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SAN DIEGO — A San Ysidro woman faces a lengthy prison sentence for sneaking undocumented immigrants into the United States by sea, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Following a two-week trial, a federal jury on Tuesday convicted 27-year-old Sofia Martinez of smuggling non-citizens into the country for financial gain.

According to prosecutors, Martinez conspired with others to use jet skis and fishing boats to transport undocumented people into the San Diego area from Mexico.

The defendant, who lived in Tijuana at the time, coordinated with accomplices to pick up the illegal travelers once they were dropped off at local beaches and then take them to their final destinations in the United States, court documents state.

The migrants paid $7,000 to $10,000 each for the illicit service, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego.

Martinez, who was indicted in the case in September 2013, was convicted of a conspiracy charge that carries a maximum custody term of five years and three smuggling counts that each have a high-end punishment of 15 years.

Her sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 23.


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