A Mexican smuggler who purposely rammed a U.S. Coast Guard vessel with his fishing boat to escape capture was sentenced Monday to spend the rest of his life in prison for killing an officer from the South Bay.
Jose Mejia-Leyva, 42, will never receive the chance for parole for the Dec. 1, 2012, confrontation that killed 34-year-old Senior Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, a Redondo Beach resident with a pregnant wife and two sons.
Meija-Leyva, the captain of the panga, was sentenced by Judge Gary A. Feess in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. Mejia-Leyva’s partner, Manuel Beltran-Higuera, 44, of Ensenada, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for his role in the crime, which occurred as Coast Guard officers tried to intercept their boat near Santa Cruz Island.
The Coast Guard on Tuesday will formally name its Terminal Island building after Horne, the first Coast Guard officer killed in the line of duty by smugglers since 1927.