Carlsbad, Calif. - Early Sunday morning, U.S. Border Patrol agents, with the assistance of Customs and Border Protection's Office of Air and Marine and U.S. Coast Guard assets, stopped a maritime human smuggling attempt at a North County beach resulting in 20 arrests.
At about 2:15 a.m., Border Patrol agents on patrol spotted a panga boat as it approached the coastline of Ponto Beach near the southern Carlsbad area. They observed the boat come ashore and offload a large group of people. Border Patrol agents on the beach were able to apprehend 18 illegal aliens but were unable to stop the panga from heading back out to sea. Agents notified CBP's Office of Air and Marine and the U.S. Coast Guard of the situation and they responded to interdict the panga.
A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter spotted the panga and directed Coast Guard and CBP marine assets to its location. The Coast Guard was able to stop and board the panga about four miles north of the border and arrested two male Mexican nationals suspected of smuggling.
In all, 18 males and two females, were arrested and transported to the Border Patrol Imperial Beach Station for questioning and processing. The vessel was seized by CBP.
CBP maintains a strong enforcement posture on the coastal borders to detect, apprehend, and deter smugglers of humans, drugs and other contraband. Maritime smuggling is a very dangerous and life threatening method of human smuggling. The law enforcement agencies in this region work collaboratively and proactively with one another to stop this threat.
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.