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Press Release

Panga Boat Pilot and Guide Sentenced to Custody

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California

Assistant U. S. Attorney Christopher Alexander (619) 546-6665


SAN DIEGO – Juan Alejandro Castro-Reza, the pilot of a panga style boat, was sentenced in federal court Monday to 24 months in prison for bringing 11 undocumented immigrants into the United States from Mexico.

Castro-Reza and Javier Guadalupe Lerma-Enriquez pleaded guilty in connection with the events of November 18, 2017, when the U.S. Border Patrol observed the vessel on the open sea operating at night and heading at a high rate of speed for an area about a mile north of the international border.  Upon making landfall, the vessel’s 13 occupants fled before being apprehended by Border Patrol agents. 

U.S. Border Patrol agents identified all of the vessel’s occupants as citizens of Mexico without any legal right to enter the United States.  Through investigation, agents learned that Lerma-Enriquez was to guide the smuggled aliens once they were inside the United States. 

At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo found that Castro-Reza’s conduct created a substantial risk to the immigrants on board the vessel and noted that he had smuggled immigrants using a panga boat before.

“Smugglers who have no regard for the safety of immigrants are stuffing people into their trunks, abandoning them in treacherous terrain and cramming way too many onto small boats to take a dangerous journey across the ocean,” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman. “Our anti-smuggling efforts are in full force because we want to save lives. Today’s sentence is another step toward that goal.”

DEFENDANTS                                            Case Number 17CR4227-CAB                                           

Juan Alejandro Castro-Reza                          Age: 45                                   San Felipe, B.C., Mexico

Javier Guadalupe Lerma-Enriquez                 Age: 23                                   Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico


DEFENDANTS                                SENTENCE

Juan Alejandro Castro-Reza               24 months of custody, 3 years of supervised release, no fine, and a special assessment of $100.00

Javier Guadalupe Lerma-Enriquez     12 months and one day of custody, 3 years of supervised release, no fine, and a special assessment of $100.00


Bringing in Undocumented Aliens and Aiding and Abetting – Title 8, U.S.C., Section 1324(a)(1)(A)(i) and (v)(II).

Maximum penalty: 10 years’ imprisonment and $250,000 fine.


United States Border Patrol

Updated May 22, 2018

Human Smuggling
Press Release Number: CAS18-0522-Castro