Two Mexican Nationals Charged in Killing of U.S. Coast Guardsman

Los Angeles Times, December 3, 2012

Federal prosecutors charged two Mexican nationals in connection with killing U.S. Coast Guardsmen Terrell Horne III after they allegedly rammed his vessel with a drug-smuggling panga boat.

The two men, boat captain Jose Mejia-Leyva and Manuel Beltra-Higuera, are expected to appear in court Monday afternoon to face charges that they killed a federal officer.

Horne, 34, of Redondo Beach, was killed Sunday after suspected smugglers in a panga rammed his vessel off the Ventura County coast. He died of severe head trauma, officials said.

The Redondo Beach resident was second in command of the Halibut, an 87-foot patrol cutter based in Marina del Rey. {snip}

Early Sunday morning, the Halibut was dispatched to investigate a boat operating near Santa Cruz Island, the largest of California’s eight Channel Islands. {snip}

{snip}

The Coast Guard cutter contains a smaller boat, a rigid-hull inflatable used routinely for search-and-rescue operations and missions that require a nimble approach. When Horne and his team approached in the inflatable, the suspect boat gunned its engine, maneuvered directly toward the Coast Guard inflatable, rammed it and fled.

The impact knocked Horne and another guardsman into the water. Both were quickly plucked from the sea. Horne had suffered a traumatic head injury. {snip}

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