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CBP Air and Marine Operations Rescue 12 after Smuggling Vessel took on Water

Release Date: 
September 9, 2019

SAN DIEGO -  An Air and Marine Operations boat crew in San Diego rescued 12 people after their boat started to take on water foiling their human smuggling attempt early Monday morning.

On Sept. 9, 2019 at approximately 3:05 a.m., the Joint Harbor Operation’s Center (JHOC) notified Air and Marine Operations (AMO) boat crew that San Diego Lifeguards had reported a vessel taking on water with 12 people on board in the vicinity of the Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma, Calif.

AMO responded in a 41-foot Safeboat Coastal Interceptor Vessel and searched for the distressed boat, a 24-foot Monterey cuddy cabin.  Around 3:45 a.m., the AMO boat crew  located the vessel with one person in the water hanging on to the vessel’s bow 11 other passengers on the vessel wearing life jackets.  The person in the water got back into the disabled vessel.  The vessel was  too close to the high surf for AMO boat to safely place the vessel in tow.

Shortly after, the San Diego Lifeguards arrived on scene and were able to place the disabled vessel in stern tow and pulled the vessel away from the surf zone.  The AMO crew then took the disabled vessel in tow to Ballast Point and secured the passengers. 

Agents with the Coastal Border Enforcement Team (CBET) responded to Ballast Point where the AMO crew turned the vessel over for an immigration check.  All 12 onboard were determined to be Mexican national men who had no documentation to be in the country.

“Maritime smuggling is very common in our area, however, it is also very dangerous,” said Hunter Davis, the Director of Air and Marine Operation in San Diego.  “ People should not risk their lives or their loved ones and place them in the hands of smugglers who place profit over human lives. Many times people are placed in unseaworthy vessels, on unpredictable seas with an unskilled maritime crew and without life jackets, or if in life jackets, these can be old and worn and may not keep one afloat.”

There were no injuries reported in this incident.

~ CBP ~

“The Regional Coordinating Mechanism (ReCoM) is another example of the evolution of joint operations among interagency partners. Located in San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco the ReCoM partnerships include the U.S. Coast Guard, CBP’s Office of Air and Marine, Office of Field Operations, U.S. Border Patrol, and ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations in cooperation with state and local law enforcement partners operating along the California coast.”

Last modified: 
September 9, 2019