Luis Farid Gonzalez, 20; Luis Espinoza Mendoza, 28; Estaban Salazar, 39; Joan Sicairos, 19; and Mark Teixeira, 38, were arrested on Aug. 1, along with four other defendants who were in court today, after the county’s Narcotics Task Force was notified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security of potential smuggling along the Peninsula coast.
About 10:15 p.m. Aug. 1, a panga boat that had landed at the beach unloaded about 180 bales of marijuana into two large vans at Ano Nuevo State Beach. Agents apprehended the van as it was entering the highway and seized the 5,148 pounds worth of marijuana, which had an estimated street value of $23 million.
Eight of the nine defendants originally pleaded not guilty Aug. 4, and the ninth pleaded not guilty the next day.
As for the final four defendants, the attorney for one, Mario Gonzalez, 36, made a motion today to continue the case, Wagstaffe said. The other three defendants -- Juan Hernandez, 39; Juan Valdez Lopez, 50; and Phin Yo Vorn, 33 -- objected to the continuance and wanted to proceed with the trial, but the judge found good cause to continue all four cases.
The defendants are now scheduled to return to court at 9 a.m. Aug. 29.
The five who pleaded no contest Wednesday will be required to serve one year in County Jail and three years' supervised probation, with credit for 24 days time served, Wagstaffe said.
They will be subject to search and seizure during probation, prohibited from possessing any firearms or ammunition, and must register as narcotics offenders.
All nine defendants remain in custody on $1 million bail each.