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Panga with 20 Onboard Intercepted at Sea

Release Date: 
January 12, 2021

SAN DIEGO — Saturday night, DHS partners interdicted a panga boat at sea with undocumented migrants on board.

Panga
USBP agents in coordination with CBP
Air and Marine Operations arrested
20 migrants who were being smuggled
into the U.S. on a small panga vessel
near San Diego.

At approximately 11:20 p.m., an Air and Marine Operations (AMO) Multi-Role Enforcement Aircraft (MEA) crew spotted a suspicious vessel off the coast of San Diego. The MEA crew vectored in an AMO Marine Unit crew, who interdicted the panga boat approximately a quarter mile west of the Point Loma shoreline.  Inside the boat were a total of 17 male Mexican nationals, and three female Mexican nationals.

“AMO agents and our Regional Law Enforcement partners remain vigilant, dedicated and focused on detecting, intercepting and disrupting human smuggling attempts off the coast of southern California, said Michael Montgomery, Director of the San Diego Air and Marine Branch. “This interdiction is another example of AMO’s unique capabilities, which combines technology, aviation and maritime assets and the expertise of our dedicated agents to safeguard our Homeland.”

AMO personnel escorted the boat to Ballast Point where U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) agents were waiting.  Agents determined that all 20 migrants were unlawfully present in the U.S.  All individuals were taken to a local Border Patrol Station for processing.

San Diego Sector (SDC) Border Patrol documented a record 309 maritime smuggling events during fiscal year 2020.  This fiscal year to date, SDC has recorded 80 maritime smuggling events.

“As a constant reminder to the public, if you see something out of the ordinary near the coast, don’t hesitate to call authorities,” said CPA Aaron M. Heitke, “These vessels are dangerously overloaded and unsafe in the ever changing ocean conditions. Smugglers exploit migrants and put lives in significant danger for their own profit.”

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.  If you have information about maritime smuggling or suspicious activity along the coast of California, please call the San Diego Joint Harbor Operations Center at 1-800-854-9834 extension 1, or notify local law enforcement by dialing 9-1-1.

– CBP –

U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) is a member agency of the Regional Coordinating Mechanism (ReCoM).  Participating DHS components include U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), CBP Air and Marine Operations (AMO), CBP Office of Field Operations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE’s) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and state and local law-enforcement agencies operating in Southern California.  The ReCoM utilizes intelligence, planning, and joint operations to target the threat of transnational crime along the coastal border.

Last modified: 
February 3, 2021