SAN DIEGO— U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) working in coordination with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) partners arrested 34 people this weekend who had entered the U.S. illegally by sea.
The first incident occurred on Sunday, December 1, at approximately 11:15 a.m., when a DHS aircraft observed a suspicious boat enter the U.S.
The USCG notified U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) to intercept the vessel. At around 12:15 p.m. AMO agents intercepted the boat approximately one-mile southeast of Point Loma, Calif.
A total of 21 people between the ages of 19 and 59 were found on the boat and transferred into USBP custody. Four were identified as suspected smugglers, two of which were U.S citizens—a 39-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman—and two were Mexican nationals, a 41-year-old man and a 38-year-old woman. The remaining seventeen people on board—five women and 12 men—were Mexican nationals who admitted to being illegally present in the U.S. The boat was seized by AMO.
The second event occurred on December 2 at approximately 12:03 a.m., when AMO’s Multi-Role Enforcement Aircraft detected a panga approximately 13 miles west of San Clemente, Calif., near Trestles Beach.
AMO notified USCG officers patrolling the area, who responded with a Coast Guard Cutter and a rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) to intercept the vessel. At around 12:52 a.m., the RHIB pursued the panga, which failed to yield, and moments later the panga beached itself near the T-Street Beach, just south of the San Clemente Pier.
Once on shore, 14 people disembarked from the panga and ran to avoid agents. USBP agents pursued and apprehended 13 people. Of those apprehended, nine were adult Mexican national men, two were juvenile male Mexican nationals, and two were adult Chinese national men. All were determined to be in the country illegally.
The panga was seized by the U.S. Border Patrol.
“The collaboration and effectiveness of our maritime partnerships is well illustrated by these two smuggling incidents,” said San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Douglas Harrison. “Additionally, with inclement weather conditions and approaching storms, smuggling in the maritime domain will increase the dangers at sea and on the shoreline. Chief Harrison added, “As I have said before, it is not worth putting your life into the hands of exploitive and indifferent smugglers.”
The 34 people arrested during these two maritime events are currently in DHS custody.