Customs and Border Protection arrested 30 people between three maritime smuggling attempts, all within a 24 hours period, according to the agency. CBP said these incidents point to a recent uptick in smuggling attempts by boat.
The first boat was discovered around 2 p.m. on Oct. 24 by the U.S. Coast Guard as it idled, broken down off the coast of San Diego.
USCG officers boarded the 19-foot pleasure craft and found it quickly taking on water with 10 passengers on board. Only four people were wearing life vests. Officers suspected the boat was involved in a human smuggling attempt.
“Officers removed all passengers from the sinking vessel and transported them to a nearby USCG facility,” CBP said.
That’s where Border Patrol agents waited to take all 10 undocumented people into custody: six Mexican citizens and four Chinese citizens. Three of those 10 will face federal human smuggling charges, CBP said.
The second boat, a panga, was discovered by CBP near Trestles as it headed north around 12:15 a.m. on Oct. 25. The panga landed in darkness near San Mateo Point and the 13 people aboard ran into a nearby San Clemente community.
Border Patrol agents waiting nearby detained nine undocumented people: six Chinese citizens and three Mexican citizens. The agency said one person admitted to captaining the boat and will face human-smuggling charges.
The third boat, another panga, was noticed by a “concerned citizen beachgoer” around 8 a.m. on Oct. 25. The panga dropped off a group of people on a beach in La Jolla, according to CBP.
Border Patrol agents arrived an hour later and detained 11 undocumented people: three Chinese nationals and eight Mexican nationals.
Agents intercepted the panga smuggling vessel traveling back south toward Mexico and detained the captain, a Mexican national, CBP said.
More broadly, there were 15 incidents of maritime smuggling and 72 arrests between Oct. 1 and Nov. 3, CBP announced. The boats have landed up and down the coast including downtown San Diego, La Jolla and San Clemente.