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Smuggling Boat Intercepted in Del Mar, 22 Arrested

— Nearly two dozen suspected illegal immigrants were taken into custody early this morning after a 25-foot ponga boat came ashore in Del Mar, authorities said.

Border Patrol agents first spotted 19 suspected illegal immigrants near Dog Beach in Del Mar around 4:30 a.m., according to U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Patrick Dunphy.

A short time later, the 25-foot ponga boat that was believed to be used to drop off the 19 was intercepted by a Coast Guard crew in the ocean about five miles west of La Jolla Cove, Dunphy said.

Three Mexican nationals aboard the boat were taken into custody and the boat was towed to shore, he said.

Today's incident marked the second time this week that a large number of suspected illegal immigrants was smuggled into the county. On Sunday, a 50- year-old Mexican man was taken into custody for allegedly trying to smuggle 73 illegal immigrants inside a big rig through the Interstate 8 checkpoint in Pine Valley.

Sunday's round of arrests was the third of its kind in the last three months. On March 6, federal agents found 25 people from Mexico inside the cargo area of a tractor- trailer, and 11 people were found inside the modified compartment of a truck on April 29.

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