Feds Recover 14 Migrants, 82 Pounds of Meth from Capsized Smuggling Boat

by Bob Price 29 Jul 2020

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations aircrew teamed up with a Coast Guard vessel to rescue 14 people from a capsized human smuggling boat. During the interdiction, officials found three packages containing 82 pounds of methamphetamine in the water off the coast of San Diego, California.

An AMO multi-role enforcement aircraft patrolling the eastern Pacific Ocean near San Diego spotted a suspicious pleasure craft coming north from Mexico. The agents found the boat to be running at night without required navigation lights, according to information obtained from San Diego Sector Border Patrol agents.

The aircrew directed a U.S. Coast Guard cutter to the location to interdict the suspected smuggling vessel. The Coast Guard cutter crew located the craft about three nautical miles off the Point Loma, California, coastline. As the Coast Guard crew interdicted the pleasure craft, it signaled the boat with lights and siren and ordered the vessel to stop.

The driver of the boat refused to yield and fled. As they fled the scene, people on board the boat began throwing bundled packages overboard.
The cutter observed the fleeing vessel to be taking on water. The boat eventually capsized about nine miles west of Mission Bay, California. The capsizing tossed all 14 of the boat’s occupants into the water.

Guardsmen rescued all 14 people from the water and found the three tossed packages. Officials report that none of the migrants in the boat sustained injuries in the incident.

The Coast Guard cutter crew transported the people to the dock and turned them over to awaiting Border Patrol agents. The agents identified the 11 men, age 18-52, and three females, age 22-32, as Mexican nationals illegally present in the United States.

Special Agents with ICE Homeland Security Investigations seized the 82 pounds of methamphetamine and began an investigation into the smuggling incident.