Smuggling boat intercepted

Monday, March 15, 2010 at 3:20 p.m.

Another smuggling vessel has been intercepted off the San Diego County coast, this time with 13 illegal immigrants on board, the U.S. Border Patrol said.

Agent Mark Endicott said the boat, a traditional Mexican open fishing vessel known as a panga, was initially spotted several miles off Point Loma by the U.S. Coast Guard, shortly before 3 a.m. Monday.

Federal vessels tracked the boat, which eventually landed about two hours later on Grand View Beach in Leucadia, Endicott said. Eleven men and two women, all citizens of Mexico, were taken into custody and interviewed. Federal agents are investigating to determine who is responsible for smuggling the passengers.

Since last October 1, more than 150 people have been arrested in incidents of maritime smuggling between Baja California and San Diego County. In January, two people died after a panga capsized off Torrey Pines State Beach. According to investigators, passengers pay as much as $5,000 each to be smuggled into the country by sea.

Leslie Berestein: (619) 542-4579; ... tercepted/