18 people arrested on suspicion of entering U.S. illegally by sea

Border Patrol says two suspected smuggling boats were intercepted off the coast of San Diego in less than 3 hours


FEB. 6, 2020 3:08 PM

Eighteen people suspected of entering the country illegally on two boats intercepted off the coast of San Diego by federal authorities early Thursday morning were arrested, federal officials said.

The first incident involved a boat detected entering U.S. water around 1:20 a.m. that was seen traveling with its lights out several miles offshore, according to a statement released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard and Air and Marine Operations intercepted the boat, a single-engine panga, a short time later about 13 miles offshore. A specific location wasn’t released by federal officials.

Seven men and one woman were found on the boat and all admitted to being Mexican nationals, officials said. One of the men was identified as a suspected human smuggler and will face criminal charges. The rest were transported to a Border Patrol station for processing and the boat was seized.

The second incident happened around 3:45 a.m when a panga was spotted about six miles south of Point Loma. A Coast Guard patrol boat intercepted the panga around 5 a.m. and 10 men were found onboard, officials said.

Nine Mexican nationals and one Guatemalan national, all of whom admitted to being in the U.S. without authorization, were detained and turned over to Border Patrol agents for processing. Two of those detained were later identified as suspected smugglers. The boat was seized.