Ocean Beach

1 Dead, 3 Rescued After Panga Boat Capsizes Near Ocean Beach Pier in Suspected Human Smuggling Attempt

CBP suspects the incident was an illegal attempt to cross into the U.S. There have been five panga boats spotted in San Diego County in one week

A suspected panga boat washed onshore in Ocean Beach on April 10, 2022

A person died and three others had to be rescued after a panga boat capsized near the Ocean Beach Pier Sunday morning in what authorities believe to be the fifth human smuggling attempt in a week.

Witnesses called lifeguards at about 10 p.m. Saturday to report there were people on a boat who were screaming and asking for help and saying, "no police," the San Diego Police Department said.

The boat, with a number of unknown people on board, capsized at around midnight during a big surf that was producing at least 8-foot waves, SDFD Lifeguard Lt. Rick Stell said.

Four to five people were able to make it ashore and ran away. Once lifeguards arrived, three people had to be rescued and a fourth person was found deceased an hour later, authorities said.

Border Patrol did arrive at the scene and it was unclear if any arrests were made.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection believed it was an attempt to illegally cross into the U.S.

"At this time, all indications are that this was an attempt to enter the U.S. illegally at sea, but CBP does not have any additional information regarding the nationalities or other information regarding the individuals involved," the agency said in a statement.

A second boat was stopped hours later, according to CBP. At around 3 a.m., CBP Air and Marine Operations intercepted a boat with 15 people on board near Point Loma. CBP said 15 people on board were attempting to enter the U.S. illegally and were detained.

This would be the fifth panga boat spotted on the San Diego coast this week.

On Monday, three separate panga boats carrying 72 migrants were also spotted in Point Loma, CBP said. All were taken into custody and taken to nearby Border Patrol stations to be processed.

"We have seen that smugglers are bringing in larger groups and putting them in more remote and dangerous areas," Alfonso Martinez, deputy chief of the Border Patrol in San Diego.

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