U.S. federal prosecutors in Los Angeles filed charges against two Mexicans for the death of a Coast Guard petty officer in a confrontation at sea.

Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, 34, died of a head injury after the Mexicans rammed a Coast Guard craft that intercepted their boat near California's Santa Cruz Island.

After the crash, the Mexicans tried to flee in their boat, but the Coast Guard later managed to capture them.

Jose Meija-Leyva, who identified himself to authorities as the captain of the boat, and Manuel Beltran-Higuera are being held without bail.

Prosecutors said the operation began in the early hours of Sunday when a Coast Guard airplane identified a suspicious boat about a mile from Santa Cruz Island, west of Los Angeles.

Members of the patrol intercepted the boat, after which they received information that another suspicious boat was also in the area. Horne and three comrades left the cutter Halibut in a rigid inflatable boat to investigate the second vessel.

When they approached within 30 feet of the launch, after turning on their lights and identifying themselves, the boat rammed the Coast Guard craft, knocking Horne and a companion into the water.

Horne suffered a serious head injury caused by a propeller and was declared dead on the dock at Port Hueneme.

The two Mexicans said that in Ensenada, Mexico, they had been offered $3,000 to take gasoline to another boat in the area where they were captured. EFE