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Border & Immigration

Feds Thwart Maritime Human-Smuggling Attempt Off Coast Of San Diego

A panga boat intercepted by Border Patrol agents off the coast of Point Loma on Dec. 1, 2019.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
A panga boat intercepted by Border Patrol agents off the coast of Point Loma on Dec. 1, 2019.

Federal agents investigating an apparent maritime human-smuggling attempt off the coast of San Diego early Thursday detained 16 people who had illegally crossed into the United States from Baja California in a fishing boat.

Alerted by the Port of San Diego Joint Harbor Operations Center to the presence of the panga in the border-area ocean waters shortly after 1:30 a.m., personnel aboard a Coast Guard vessel located it about 15 miles west of Sunset Cliffs, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection public affairs.

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About 4:30 a.m., Border Patrol agents found and detained 12 men and four women, all Mexican nationals, who apparently had been dropped off in the water near Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier in La Jolla and made their way to shore.

All the members of the traveling group were in the United States illegally, CBP spokeswoman Jackie Wasiluk said.