SAN DIEGO – U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Interdiction agents stopped an attempt to smuggle fifteen people into the United States off the coast of San Diego, including one child and one pregnant woman.
“Crowding too many people on a small pleasure craft out at sea can be dangerous to those on board, as our agents know all too well,” Said Jeremy Thompson, Director of Marine Operations for CBP in San Diego. “People’s lives can be at risk when they are putting their trust in a smuggler who cares more about profit than people. I’m glad we were able to work with our partners to safely bring these folks to shore.”
A crew from Air and Marine Operations was on patrol Friday evening off the coast in a Multi-Role Enforcement Aircraft when they spotted a 23-foot cuddy cabin boat, named the Pressure Valve. The crew maintained surveillance of the vessel, and provided guidance to the crew of a Midnight Express boat so that they could meet up with and inspect the vessel. CBP Air and Marine Operations also launched a Blackhawk helicopter to provide coverage of the interdiction.
Upon reaching the vessel, out at sea about four miles south of Point Loma, agents aboard the Midnight Express arrived with lights and sirens on, with the Blackhawk overhead providing a spotlight; the boat stopped. Agents immediately saw that it was overloaded with people on board. Air and Marine agents from CBP contacted a U.S. Coast Guard vessel that was on patrol nearby, the Coast Guard Cutter Barracuda, and the crew provided assistance safely transporting the 15 people aboard the vessel to the dock at the Ballast Point.
From the dock, U.S. Border Patrol agents responded to transport the 15 people to the San Ysidro port of entry, where CBP officers processed them. Among the 15 people on the boat were eight men, six women, including a pregnant woman, and one 15-year-old boy. All were determined to be Mexican nationals without any legal status to enter the U.S. None required immediate medical attention, and all appeared to be in good health.
Agents identified the suspected driver of the vessel, who will face federal charges related to the smuggling attempt.
This interdiction was a direct result of the Southern California Regional Coordinating Mechanism (ReCoM). The ReCoM is comprised of the U.S. Coast Guard, CBP's Air and Marine Operations, Office of Field Operations, U.S. Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations and state and local law enforcement partners operating in the Southern California. The ReCoM utilizes the fusion of intelligence, planning and operations to target the threat of transnational crime along the coastal border.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.