Marijuana smugglers plead guilty

Two of seven men aboard a 30-foot panga boat that came ashore at Crystal Cove State Park in February pleaded guilty to smuggling more than 1,200 pounds of marijuana, according to the United States Attorney's office.

Kevin Anthony Gilbert, 23, and Walter Solis-Maldonado, 24, recently pleaded guilty to knowingly and intentionally possessing, with the intent to distribute, at least 100 kilograms of marijuana, in United States District Court in Santa Ana, according to court documents and Thom Mrozek, public affairs officer for the U.S. Attorney's office.

OC Weekly first reported the story.

A third passenger, Francisco Javier Chavez, 31, entered into a plea agreement June 13 but has not officially entered a plea in court, Mrozek wrote in an email.

Gilbert and Solis-Maldonado each face a maximum 40 years in prison, according to Mrozek. Gilbert's sentencing is scheduled for July 29.

The other four passengers were named in an indictment filed by the U.S. Attorney's office March 6 in District Court. The defendants are: Jose Angel Bool, 41, Victor Cervantes-Lopez, 23, Marcus Anthony Gilbert, 28, and Martin Gomez-Arreola, 45.

Bool, Cervantes-Lopez, Marcus Gilbert and Gomez-Arreola have all pleaded not guilty and are scheduled for trial Sept. 10, Mrozek said.

The U.S. Attorney's officials did not know what cities the men were from.

The 26 bundles of marijuana had a $1.79-million estimated street value, according to an earlier Coastline Pilot story.

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