San Diego

CBP Arrests 30 People in 3 Maritime Smuggling Attempts Within a 24 Hour Period

CBP responded to three separate human smuggling attempts on the coast, including one in La Jolla

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.

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