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Customs Agents Angling For New Boats

Customs and Border Protections officials say a new boat that's faster and has cameras could help agents intercept more smugglers at sea. Customs officers completed their week-long test drive of the vessel yesterday.

Dozens of boats smuggling marijuana and people from Mexico to the U.S. have slipped across the U.S.-Mexico border during the last few years. They've landed at beaches in La Jolla and Del Mar. And one got as far north as Carlsbad.

Customs officials say tougher enforcement on land has driven smugglers to sea. They say out on the water, especially at night, the small crafts are nearly impossible to see.

Thomas Norton, director of Customs and Border Protection's Marine Center, said the new boat would improve agents' vision with cameras, "An infrared camera, a day camera and a night camera for detection of activity."

Norton said the boat is also 15 miles-per-hour faster. Customs officials are testing the boat in eight cities across the country and they hope Congress budgets money to buy the vessels and get them in place by next summer.

Its not clear when the boats would arrive in San Diego.

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