Agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection arrested more than a dozen suspected illegal immigrants after a boat came ashore early Wednesday morning in Carlsbad.
Carlsbad police say they got a call from agents just before 1:30 a.m. that a smuggling boat had landed near the Batiquitos Lagoon.
Officers say Border Patrol agents were tracking the boat by helicopter before the suspects got out. Once the people got to shore, some apparently took off running -- that's when authorities made the arrests.
At least 17 people were taken into custody officers said.
The scene just south of Palomar Airport Rd. and Carlsbad Blvd was cleared before 5 a.m.
The illegal trafficking of immigrants and drugs has been a growing problem -- and was a major focus of a Homeland Security conference here in San Diego just two weeks ago. Officials with a special Homeland Security task force took members of the media on a ride-along to show what they're doing.
In growing numbers, migrants are gambling their lives at sea as land crossings become even more arduous and likely to end in arrest. Sea interdictions and arrests have spiked year-over-year for three years, as enforcement efforts ramp up to meet the challenge.
U.S. agents arrested 753 suspected illegal immigrants on Southern California shores and seas between October and Aug. 24, up from 400 the previous 12 months and 230 the year before. They spotted 85 watercraft since October, up from 49 during the previous 12 months and 33 the year before.