San Diego - San Diego Regional Coordinating Mechanism officials intercepted a maritime human smuggling attempt near Oceanside yesterday.
At about 11 a.m. on Monday, the operator of a privately-owned boat encountered a 24-foot Skipjack pleasure vessel taking on water off the coast of Oceanside. The boat operator towed the disabled vessel to an area near Oceanside Harbor. The Oceanside Harbor Police Department intercepted the two vessels approximately one-half mile from the harbor and towed the disabled vessel into the harbor. U.S. Border Patrol agents were summoned to the scene to question the vessel occupants and determined the 12 individuals aboard to be Mexican nationals illegally present in the United States.
Border Patrol agents were able to determine that the distressed boat departed Rosarito Beach on Friday and was headed for Long Beach when the vessel became disabled. The boat's navigator reportedly radioed an accomplice for assistance. The accomplice arrived in a small boat and picked up the navigator, indicating they would send for assistance. Assistance never arrived and the remaining 11 passengers and captain were left adrift for three days before being spotted near Oceanside Harbor.
The four female and eight male Mexican nationals were turned over to the U.S. Border Patrol for processing. The vessel was seized by the U.S. Border Patrol.
The San Diego Regional Coordinating Mechanism (ReCoM) is a collaborative law enforcement group operating in the maritime domain. Affiliated partners include U.S. Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Coast Guard, and other local, state, and Federal law enforcement agencies. The U.S. Border Patrol, in collaboration with HSI and the U.S. Attorney's Office, has increased the consequences for individuals interdicted/smuggled through the maritime environment. This increase in penalty is due to the dangerous and unpredictable conditions of the maritime environment and the U.S. Border Patrol's efforts to prevent the loss of lives.
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.