Border patrol officials in San Diego announced Friday that an increased law enforcement presence will be in place throughout the Memorial Day holiday weekend to counter human smuggling attempts at sea.
Through Tuesday, federal law enforcement officials will be out to bolster coastal patrols along San Diego's shorelines at a time when dangerous and sometimes fatal attempts to smuggle people into the United States have made local headlines.
In May, two such attempts resulted in fatalities, with three people dying on May 2 in a wreck off the coast of Point Loma and another person dying May 20 when a panga boat capsized off the shore of La Jolla.
"Recent maritime events have demonstrated that smugglers exploit migrants and put lives in significant danger for their own profit,'' said Aaron Heitke, of the U.S. Border Patrol's San Diego sector.
Those out and about during the holiday weekend can expect to see law enforcement operating on both land and water in conjunction with helicopters and airplanes conducting aerial patrols, according to the Border Patrol. San Diego residents or guests to the region were asked to call the Joint Harbor Operations Center at 1-800-854-9834 if any smuggling-related activity is witnessed.
"Smugglers don't adhere to boating safety standards. These are long and dangerous excursions, with overladen vessels traveling without navigational lights and no safety equipment,'' said Brandon Tucker, deputy director of Air Operations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. "People need to understand that they are risking their lives in the hands of smugglers who value only the money they are paid.''