Smuggling Boat Capsizes, One Dead
Saturday, January 16, 2010
One person is dead after the small boat smuggling him and at least fourteen others from Mexico to the United States capsized. The boat went over in heavy surf at Torrey Pines State Beach.
Surfers paddled into waves Saturday morning as rescue helicopters scanned the water for anyone who fell out of the boat.
The smuggling boat capsized before dawn.
Customs and Border Protections spokeswoman Jackie Dizdul says it's not clear if anyone is missing because agents don’t know how many people were aboard.
She says 29 life jackets were scattered on the beach. But she says some looked like they hadn’t been used.
"What we try to tell people over and over again is please do not put your life in the hands of these smugglers. They are not concerned with human life, quite honestly. Unfortunately, this is the result."
Lifeguards and federal officers plucked people from the water.
Some of the people aboard the boat who made it ashore ran away. Border Patrol agents closed Torrey Pines State Reserve while they searched the brush and canyons.
More than four dozen smuggling boats have come ashore or been caught along San Diego’s coast during the last 14 months.
This is the first time someone has died.
Many of the smuggling boats that show up on San Diego's coast are launched from Rosarito and Ensenada.
Some Tijuana media outlets say that Friday night, Rosarito police arrested 23 people in the small beach town Popotla. The news reports say the group was getting ready to get in a boat, head north and cross illegally into the US.
U.S. federal officials estimate the ride north takes at least 12 hours. They estimate people pay between $3,000 and $5,000.
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