Panga with 20 Onboard Intercepted at Sea

Release Date: January 12, 2021

SAN DIEGO — Saturday night, DHS partners interdicted a panga boat at sea with undocumented migrants on board.

USBP agents in coordination with CBP Air and Marine Operations arrested 20 migrants who were being smuggled into the U.S. on a small panga vessel near San Diego.

At approximately 11:20 p.m., an Air and Marine Operations (AMO) Multi-Role Enforcement Aircraft (MEA) crew spotted a suspicious vessel off the coast of San Diego. The MEA crew vectored in an AMO Marine Unit crew, who interdicted the panga boat approximately a quarter mile west of the Point Loma shoreline.

Inside the boat were a total of 17 male Mexican nationals, and three female Mexican nationals.

AMO personnel escorted the boat to Ballast Point where U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) agents were waiting. Agents determined that all 20 migrants were unlawfully present in the U.S. All individuals were taken to a local Border Patrol Station for processing.

San Diego Sector (SDC) Border Patrol documented a record 309 maritime smuggling events during fiscal year 2020. This fiscal year to date, SDC has recorded 80 maritime smuggling events.

“As a constant reminder to the public, if you see something out of the ordinary near the coast, don’t hesitate to call authorities,” said CPA Aaron M. Heitke, “These vessels are dangerously overloaded and unsafe in the ever changing ocean conditions. Smugglers exploit migrants and put lives in significant danger for their own profit.”

To prevent the illicit smuggling of humans, drugs, and other contraband, the U.S. Border Patrol maintains a high level of vigilance on corridors of egress away from our Nation’s borders. If you have information about maritime smuggling or suspicious activity along the coast of California, please call the San Diego Joint Harbor Operations Center at 1-800-854-9834 extension 1, or notify local law enforcement by dialing 9-1-1.