24 Arrested in Early Morning Maritime Smuggling Attempt

ENCINITAS, Calif. — A collaborative effort between U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department prevented a maritime smuggling attempt early this morning at the Encinitas coastline.

At about 5:20 a.m., Sheriff’s Deputies and U.S. Border Patrol agents responded to an area near Swami’s Beach after receiving a report of several individuals getting off of a boat that had just come ashore. A total of 16 males and six females were found scattered in the nearby brush. The individuals were determined to be Mexican nationals illegally in the country.

The 30-foot Panga used to smuggle 24 Mexican nationals was stopped by CBP Marine Interdiction agents about five miles west of the coastline at Point Loma.

By the time law enforcement personnel arrived to the scene, the suspected smuggling boat had returned to sea. The U.S. Coast Guard and CBP Air and Marine Interdiction agents were immediately notified and began a search for the boat. A CBP aircraft soon located the 30-foot Panga as it was traveling southbound. The boat was then stopped by CBP Marine Interdiction agents about five miles west of the coastline at Point Loma. Two male Mexican nationals aboard the boat were arrested.

The entire group of Mexican nationals is currently being detained by the U.S. Border Patrol. The two men who were found aboard the boat are facing charges for alien smuggling. Agents also discovered that safety vests were not available or used during this smuggling incident.

This coordinated, multi-agency effort demonstrates enhanced response capabilities to maintain a bolstered enforcement posture along the coastal border in the San Diego region.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

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