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  4. DHS Partners Apprehend 26 Offshore in 24 Hours

DHS Partners Apprehend 26 Offshore in 24 Hours

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SAN DIEGO, Calif.—U.S. Border Patrol agents working in coordination with DHS Regional Coordinating Mechanism (ReCoM) partners arrested 26 people off the Pacific Coast associated with maritime smuggling in a 24-hour period.

The first incident occurred on Sunday, Sept. 9, at around 6:30 p.m., when the United States Coast Guard encountered a panga-style vessel approximately one mile west of Mission Bay.  Coast Guard detained the vessel and its 19 occupants.  They contacted the U.S. Border Patrol, which took custody of the individuals for further investigation.

Border Patrol determined that all 19 occupants, including the individual operating the panga, were Mexican nationals illegally present in the U.S.  The 15 men, three women and one 15-year-old juvenile male were all arrested in that incident.  The panga operator is currently in DHS custody and faces human smuggling charges.

About 24 hours later, in the early morning hours of Sept. 10, ReCoM partners intercepted a pleasure craft with seven people on board.  Agents determined that two were Chinese nationals and five were Mexican nationals and all had entered the United States illegally.  All were males and were taken to a U.S. Border Patrol station for processing.  One of the Mexican men in custody faces human smuggling charges for this event.

In the last 17 days, the U.S. Border Patrol in coordination with the ReCoM have apprehended 54 illegal aliens including 6 suspected human smugglers in five separate maritime events.  Over the last 10 years, ReCoM maritime operations have accounted for over 5,000 arrests and the seizure of more than 554,000 pounds of drugs.

Maritime smuggling is extremely dangerous as Transnational Criminal Organizations prioritize monetary gain over the wellbeing of those they attempt to smuggle.  Smugglers often overcrowd small, open vessels, and in the cases where personal flotation devices are provided, these are often unsafe and insufficient. Unpredictable sea and surf conditions, visibility, and weather are not important considerations to smugglers. Smugglers place an emphasis on profits over their victim’s safety by placing them in unpredictable and unsafe conditions.

If you have information about maritime smuggling or suspicious activity along the coast of California, call 911, and you will be directed through the proper channels.

Last Modified: May 27, 2022