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Multiple DHS Agencies in San Diego Collaborate to Intercept Maritime Smuggling Attempts

Release Date: 
July 17, 2012

San Diego - DHS law enforcement officials in San Diego County intercepted two maritime human smuggling attempts during the last six days involving 27 Mexican nationals.

At about 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 12, harbor officials received a distress call from a disabled 20-foot pleasure craft near Point Loma that was taking on water. Through the joint efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard and Office of Air and Marine, the distressed craft and six passengers were towed to Shelter Island and the U.S. Border Patrol was summoned to conduct an immigration evaluation. Agents determined the six passengers were Mexican nationals illegally present in the United States. The passengers were arrested and transported to a nearby Border Patrol station for processing. The vessel was seized by Air and Marine.

On Thursday, agents received a distress call from a boat that was taking on water.  The six passengers were Mexican nationals illegally present in the U.S.

At about 1 a.m. on Sunday, July 15, a Customs and Border Protection interceptor vessel, crewed by MIAs and a CBP officer, was on patrol about four nautical miles west of Torrey Pines State Park when the crew heard the engine of another vessel. Using night vision equipment, the crew spotted a small vessel running without navigation lights out at sea, a practice that is both dangerous and illegal.

On Sunday, agents discovered a panga boat near Del Mar with 21 Mexican nationals on board who had entered the U.S. illegally.

The CBP agents activated their lights and sirens to stop the vessel, which they discovered was a 30-foot panga. When the CBP vessel approached, the panga fled from law enforcement authorities. After a pursuit that lasted almost 30 minutes, the panga stopped. CBP marine interdiction agents found 21 persons on board who were determined to be Mexican nationals illegally present in the United States. The U.S. Coast Guard assisted with towing the vessel back to shore and all subjects were arrested and turned over to Border Patrol agents who transported them to a nearby station for processing. The panga was seized by CBP marine interdiction agents.

These two interdictions were part of a coordinated effort by the San Diego Regional Coordinating Mechanism. ReCoM, a formalized group, comprised of CBP, ICE, Coast Guard, and other law enforcement partners, is an all-threats, multi-agency approach to maritime law enforcement. The group shares intelligence, plans strategies, and uses multi-agency operations to target the threat of transnational crime along the Southern California coastal border.

If you have information about maritime smuggling or suspicious activity along the coast of Southern California, please contact the Sector San Diego U.S. Coast Guard Joint Harbor Operations Center at (800) 854-9834.

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 dangerous people and capabilities out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017