Border Patrol nabs 30 people being smuggled to shore by boats

One boat was sinking off San Diego as the Coast Guard rescued 10 people from the vessel


OCT. 25, 2019 3:10 PM

SAN DIEGO — Border Patrol agents took 30 people from China and Mexico into custody in less than 24 hours as they were being smuggled illegally to the United States by boats, a federal official said Friday.

One boat was taking on water and sinking fast as a U.S. Coast Guard crew rescued 10 people off the coast of San Diego Thursday afternoon, according to Border Patrol officials.

They said only four of the passengers were wearing life vests, so the Coast Guard crew had to act quickly to get them off the boat. Of the 10, six men and women were Mexican and four were Chinese.

Three face human-smuggling charges.

Shortly after midnight on Friday, Air and Marine Operations agents spotted a panga boat heading north near a North County beach called Trestles. It landed at nearby San Mateo Point, at the Orange County line, where 13 people got out of the boat and ran. Agents caught nine people - six from China and three from Mexico. One admitted being captain of the boat and faces smuggling charges, officials said.

A beachgoer reported another panga boat coming ashore in La Jolla to drop off passengers about 8 a.m., the Border Patrol said. Agents got there about 9:15 a.m. and detained 11 people - three from China and eight from Mexico. The boat went back to sea, heading south, and was intercepted by the Coast Guard. The captain, a Mexican national, was arrested on smuggling charges.

Authorities said agents in the San Diego region have seen an increase in human smuggling by boat, which they attribute to the completion of a new, 18-foot-high primary border wall and construction of a 30-foot-high secondary wall.