Twenty-three illegal immigrants were caught by U.S. Border Patrol agents on a Carlsbad beach Friday after wading ashore from a suspected smuggling boat, according to authorities.

The Mexican immigrants were spotted by a patrol boat about 4 a.m. off Ponto Beach in Carlsbad.

The boat got away, heading south, after dropping off the immigrants, authorities said.

Maritime smuggling incidents off the San Diego coast have increased sharply as trafficking groups take to the high seas to avoid bolstered enforcement on land.

-- Richard Marosi

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