Border Patrol intercepts boat off San Diego coast carrying 23 illegal immigrants

Southern border encounters remain at 20-year high

Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent on more than 20,900 unaccompanied minors are in U.S. custody.

Border Patrol officials rescued more than 20 people from a suspected smuggling boat early Monday off the coast of Point Loma in Southern California.

A Border Patrol agent operating a vehicle-based video surveillance system spotted a “panga type vessel” around just before 2:50 a.m. close to rocks off Sunset Cliff, a Border Patrol spokesman told Fox News. 

More than 20 illegal immigrants were rescued from a suspected smuggling boat off the coast of California, officials said.
(KSWB)

A Coast Guard cutter deployed a small boat. Coast Guard officials tried to make contact with the small boat’s operator, who allegedly ignored their commands to stop. 

More than 20 illegal immigrants were rescued from a suspected smuggling boat off the coast of California, officials said.
(KSWB)

The panga’s engine died and the vessel drifted closer to shore. Officials feared the panga would capsize much like another small boat smuggling illegal immigrants did near the same area earlier this month, resulting in three deaths. 

More than 20 illegal immigrants were rescued from a suspected smuggling boat off the coast of California, officials said.
(KSWB)

San Diego lifeguards and San Diego Harbor police arrived on the scene. The Coast Guard pulled the panga ashore and removed people from the boat.

Onboard were 20 men and three women who were taken to San Diego lifeguard headquarters. Border Patrol agents interviewed the 23 passengers and determined they were illegally present in the U.S. They included 20 people from Mexico, and three from Guatemala. 

More than 20 illegal immigrants were rescued from a suspected smuggling boat off the coast of California, officials said.
(KSWB)

The panga was seized and an investigation is ongoing. It remains unclear who the operator was. The passengers, meanwhile, have been taken to a Border Patrol station for processing. 

Wreckage and debris from a capsized boat washes ashore at Cabrillo National Monument near where a boat capsized just off the San Diego coast Sunday, May 2, 2021, in San Diego.
(AP)

Less than three weeks ago, a packed boat being used in a human smuggling operation capsized and broke apart near the rugged peninsula of Point Loma – about five miles from where Monday’s panga was intercepted. 

In the earlier incident, three people died, including a 41-year-old woman, a 35-year-old man, and a man of unknown age. Agents determined all were Mexican citizens with no legal status to enter the U.S. Two of the people on the boat – the suspected smugglers – are facing federal charges. 

The Border Patrol spokesman told Fox News that the San Diego Border Patrol Sector has seen a 92% increase in maritime apprehensions in Fiscal Year 2020. He said they have also seen an increase in narcotics seizures via maritime smuggling events. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.  

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