Coast Guard interdicts 10 suspected migrants at sea

A panga that was carrying 10 suspected migrants sits at the dock at Coast Guard Sector San Diego on Dec. 5, 2015. The panga was intercepted by the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection's Air and Marine Operations east of San Clemente Island, Calif., Dec. 4, 2015. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

A panga that was carrying 10 suspected migrants sits at the dock at Coast Guard Sector San Diego on Dec. 5, 2015. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

SAN DIEGO – U.S. Coast Guard crews interdicted 10 suspected migrants aboard a panga east of San Clemente Island, California, Friday night.

On Friday afternoon, a multi-role enforcement aircraft from U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations detected a suspected panga with 10 persons on board southwest of and approaching the United States maritime boundary line.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Haddock and Steadfast, an HC-130 Hercules aircraft from U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento, California, and a CBP AMO vessel were tasked to intercept the panga.

On Friday evening, the Steadfast launched their small boat crew and interdicted the panga without incident east of San Clemente Island. All 10 suspected migrants were then transferred on board the Haddock, which also took the panga in tow.

The suspects and vessel were transferred to U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Diego, where U.S. Customs and Border Protection Marine Task Force agents took custody of the individuals Saturday morning.

“Maritime trafficking is a threat to national security and harmful to everyone involved,” said Capt. Jonathan S. Spaner, commanding officer of Sector San Diego. “I commend the crews on this mission for achieving a safe and effective resolution.”

The MTF and San Diego Regional Coordinating Mechanism (ReCoM) are comprised of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Field Operations, Air and Marine Operations, U.S. Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Coast Guard and other federal, state and local partners. Collectively, these regional partners conduct interagency operational planning and leverage agency authorities and jurisdictions to combat threat networks that seek to exploit the maritime approaches to the U.S.

If you have information about maritime smuggling or suspicious activity along the coast of Southern California, please contact the Sector San Diego Joint Harbor Operations Center at 800-854-9834.

The Steadfast is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Astoria, Oregon.

The Haddock is an 87-foot patrol boat homported in San Diego.

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