Maritime Investigation Leads to Arrests; Weekend Apprehensions Included Several “Got Away” Suspects
SAN DIEGO — U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested 15 people this weekend, all of whom were involved in maritime smuggling activities. Included in that group were several people who escaped arrest last Friday after their boat landed in north county San Diego. Others included some of the getaway car drivers.
The event began on Friday, June 26, at approximately 3:30 p.m., when a 20 to 25 foot pleasure craft came ashore near Beacon’s State Beach in Encinitas, California. Witnesses reported 11 people running along the beach and two people climbing up the cliffs. After arriving on scene, agents discovered 13 lifejackets and some empty fuel containers inside the vessel. Agents were unable to locate any people despite an extensive search.
Border Patrol agents assigned to investigate maritime smuggling followed leads and located the suspects. Working with eyewitnesses and based on previously developed intelligence, agents began making arrests Friday evening. Before the end of the night, agents had in custody seven smugglers and eight illegal migrants including a 27-year-old female Mexican national, and seven male Mexican nationals, ages 22 to 39.
Four U.S. citizens and three Mexican nationals, are being charged with felony alien smuggling (8 USC 1324) and the eight smuggled Mexican nationals will be processed for removal from the United States.
USBP also seized four vehicles in connection with the smuggling event and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations seized the smuggler’s vessel.
“I am proud of the hard work and diligence the agents displayed in this case,” said San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke. “Our agents dismantled an entire smuggling ring through the use of targeted intelligence. The message is clear, those who engage in alien smuggling will be discovered, arrested, and prosecuted.”
To prevent the illicit smuggling of humans, drugs, and other contraband, the U.S. Border Patrol maintains a high level of vigilance on corridors of egress away from our Nation’s borders. To report suspicious activity to the U.S. Border Patrol, contact San Diego Sector at (619) 498-9900.