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6 ½ Hour Tracking Ends with CBP Stopping Second Smuggling at Sea Event in Two Nights

Release Date: 
June 12, 2020

SAN DIEGO – For the second night in a row, agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations (AMO) spotted and interdicted a boat off the coast of San Diego loaded with people trying to illegally enter the U.S.

Almost three hours later, at about 2:30 a.m., the marine interdiction agents intercepted the boat off the shore of Point Loma.  “From the time our aircraft crew first spotted this boat, we continuously tracked the vessel for six and a half hours before interdicting this boat, and working with our partners to bring everyone to shore,” said Christopher Hunter, Deputy Director of Marine Operations for CBP in San Diego.  “These kinds of lengthy pursuits are very taxing, but not unusual for our Air and Marine agents as smugglers try to use the vastness of the ocean to cover their tracks.”

At about 8 p.m. on June 10, a crew aboard a CBP multi-role enforcement aircraft was on patrol off the coast of San Diego when they spotted a vessel cross out of Mexican territorial waters headed northbound.  The crew tracked the boat for three and a half hours before handing off the tracking to a second crew on another multi-role enforcement aircraft.  

The second aircraft crew continued tracking the boat while vectoring in a crew on a CBP coastal interceptor vessel.  Almost three hours later, at about 2:30 a.m., the marine interdiction agents intercepted the boat off the shore of Point Loma.  CBP marine interdiction agents identified 25 people on board the cabin cruiser pleasure boat, all attempting to illegally enter the U.S.

CBP marine interdiction agents identified 25 people on board the cabin cruiser pleasure boat, all attempting to illegally enter the U.S.CBP requested assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard, on patrol nearby in the Coast Guard Cutter Benjamin Bottoms.  USCG responded and took the 25 individuals on board the cutter to safely transfer them to the dock. 

At the dock, U.S. Border Patrol agents responded to take custody of the 25 people, all Mexican citizens: 18 men ages 18-66; six women ages 20-47; and one 15-year-old boy.  Agents also identified the captain of the boat, who will face federal charges.  U.S. Border Patrol agents processed all 25 to be returned to Mexico.  Marine interdiction agents seized the 32-foot boat.

This was the second interdiction at sea on Wednesday.  CBP AMO also stopped a vessel with ten men on board earlier in the day at 1 a.m.

If you have information about maritime smuggling or suspicious activity along the coast of California, please call 9-1-1, and you will be directed through the proper channels.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is a member agency of the Regional Coordinating Mechanism (ReCoM). Other members include federal, and state and local law-enforcement agencies operating in Southern California.  The ReCoM utilizes intelligence, planning, and joint operations to target the threat of transnational crime along the coastal border.

Last modified: 
February 3, 2021