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34 arrested in two maritime smuggling incidents off coast of San Diego County

Waves batter the cliffs while two hikers pass at Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma. Photo tak
Waves batter the cliffs while at Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma in this 2010 file photo. Border Patrol agents intercepted a smuggling boat a mile southeast of the area on Sunday.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Border Patrol agents arrested 34 people after stopping two suspected smuggling boats, one off the coast of Point Loma and another near San Clemente, the agency reported Tuesday.

The first vessel was spotted around 11:15 a.m. Sunday, and agents intercepted the boat around an hour later roughly one mile southeast of Point Loma, Border Patrol officials said.

Twenty-one people, whose ages ranged from 19 to 59, were found aboard and taken into custody.

Four of those people were identified as suspected smugglers — a 39-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman from the U.S. and a 41-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman from Mexico.

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The remaining passengers, five women and 12 men, were identified as Mexican nationals.

Shortly before 12:05 a.m. Monday, an aircraft spotted a panga boat roughly 13 miles west of San Clemente near Trestles Beach.

Border Patrol agents contacted the U.S. Coast Guard, and a Cutter patrolling in the area responded along with a rigid-hull inflatable boat.

Around 12:50 a.m., the inflatable boat pursued the panga, but the panga continued toward the shore and landed near the T-Street Beach, just south of the San Clemente Pier.

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Once the boat hit the shore, 14 people got out and attempted to flee from Border Patrol agents, but 13 were apprehended.

Nine were men from Mexico, two were teenage boys from Mexico and two were men from China, Border Patrol officials said. All were determined to be in the country illegally.

The panga was seized by the Border Patrol, and all 34 people arrested were taken into custody by the Department of Homeland Security.


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