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Boat With Suspected Undocumented Immigrants Washes Ashore In Pacific Beach

Two separate attempts by groups of undocumented immigrants to sneak into the United States through the ocean in the dark of night left two of the illicit sea travelers dead early today, authorities reported.

About 2:30 a.m., the U.S. Border Patrol got a report of a 16- to 18-foot fishing boat with more than a dozen people aboard coming to shore north of Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach, USBP spokesman Rodolfo Zuniga said.

Agents went to the area and detained 13 suspected undocumented immigrants near the foot of Law Street, according to Zuniga. The personnel then tracked down the beached motorboat and found two people there, one of them unconscious and unresponsive. Medics pronounced that man dead at the scene.

Eleven of the others were taken to a hospital for evaluations.

It was unclear how long the group of nine men and six women had been in the water, Zuniga said.

The earlier deadly ocean crossing attempt came to light shortly before 11 p.m. Tuesday, when Border Patrol personnel spotted three men swimming to the north near the western end of the international security fence, according to the federal agency and San Diego police.

USBP officers went to the area and took two of the suspected illegal border-crossers into custody as they came out of the water, Zuniga said. When the third man failed to appear, members of the Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue Team entered the surf to look for him, according to Zuniga.

About an hour later, the personnel found the missing man floating dead about an eighth of a mile offshore. They recovered the body and turned it over to the county Medical Examiner's Office.

Cause-of-death rulings for both men, whose identities were not immediately confirmed, were on hold pending completion of postmortem exams.

All 18 of the people involved in the pair of ill-fated border crossings turned out to be Mexican nationals in the United States illegally, Zuniga said.

Due to recent upswings in the number of such dangerous attempts to illegally enter the United States by sea, federal authorities are working to increase punishments for the crime, the spokesman noted.

"Our number-one goal here is to discourage deaths,'' he said.

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