Twenty-One people were arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) after two pangas attempted to enter the U.S. illegally early Friday morning.
At about 1 a.m., a CBP aircraft spotted two pangas after they crossed from Mexican territorial waters towards the U.S. The aircraft then directed a CBP boat to the location of one panga and the U.S. Coast Guard to the other, CBP spokesperson Jackie Wasiluk said.
At around 3:30 a.m. the CBP boat reached the first panga with lights and sirens. However, the panga failed to yield and fled. Then marine interdiction agents fired two marine warning shots, after still failing to yield, the agent fired a round at the panga's engine which stopped the boat about five miles from Point Loma. Seven people were found on board, Wasiluk said.
Six men ages 19 to 50, and one woman, 29, were Mexican nationals. All had no legal entry to the U.S.
The USCG boat reached the second panga, which also failed to yield. The panga was able to land on Ocean Beach near Dog Beach. U.S. Border Patrol agents, who were on the beach, apprehended 14 people who attempted to flee, Wasiluk said.
The group included three women ages 27 to 40, 10 men ages 18 to 45, and one unaccompanied male teenager. All were Mexican nationals who had no legal entry to the U.S.
“We had multiple agencies involved in bringing this dangerous smuggling attempt to a safe conclusion,” said Christopher Hunter, Director of Marine Operations for CBP in San Diego. “Smugglers have no regard for the lives and safety of everyone on board when they make reckless maritime maneuvers.”
CBP Air and Marine Operations seized the panga boats.