US Coast Guard, CBP boat crews intercept two maritime smuggling events off California

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents working in coordination with US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) partner agencies arrested 34 people who had entered the US illegally by sea earlier this week.

The first incident occurred on Sunday, December 1, at approximately 11:15 local time, when a DHS aircraft observed a suspicious boat enter the US.

The US Coast Guard (USCG) notified CBP’s Air and Marine Operations (AMO) to intercept the vessel. At around 12:15, AMO agents intercepted the boat approximately 1.6 kilometres southeast of Point Loma, California.

A total of 21 people between the ages of 19 and 59 were found on the boat and transferred into US Border Patrol (USBP) custody. Four were identified as suspected smugglers, two of which were US citizens—a 39-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman—and two were Mexican nationals, a 41-year-old man and a 38-year-old woman.

The remaining 17 people on board—five women and 12 men—were Mexican nationals who admitted to being illegally present in the US.

The boat was seized by AMO.

The second event occurred on Monday, December 2, at approximately 00:03, when an AMO enforcement detected a panga-type fast boat approximately 20 kilometres west of San Clemente, California, near Trestles Beach.

AMO notified USCG officers patrolling the area, who responded with a Coast Guard Cutter and a rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) to intercept the vessel.

At around 00:52, the RHIB pursued the panga, which failed to yield, and moments later the panga beached itself near the T-Street Beach, just south of the San Clemente Pier. Once on shore, 14 people disembarked from the panga and ran to avoid agents.

USBP agents pursued and apprehended 13 people. Of those apprehended, nine were adult Mexican national men, two were juvenile male Mexican nationals, and two were adult Chinese national men. All were determined to be in the country illegally.

The panga was seized by the USBP.

The 34 people arrested during these two maritime events are currently in DHS custody.

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