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15 arrested as Border Patrol says agents break up maritime smuggling ring in San Diego

Empty boat sits on Beacon's Beach
The U.S. Border Patrol said this abandoned boat on Beacon’s Beach in Encinitas was used to illegally smuggle people into the country on Friday.
(U.S. Border Patrol)

Hours after a boat landed on a state beach in Encinitas and the occupants took off running, federal agents found and arrested 15 people, dismantling a suspected smuggling ring, the U.S. Border Patrol said Tuesday.

About 3:30 p.m. Friday, a 25-foot pleasure craft came ashore at Beacon’s Beach, the agency said in a news release. According to the Border Patrol, witnesses said they saw 11 people running on the beach, and two more scrambling up the cliffs.

Agents searched but could not find anyone. They did, however, discover 13 life jackets in the empty boat.

Using what the agency described as “previously developed intelligence,” as well as talking with witnesses, the agents found the group who they suspected was involved in smuggling people into the United States via the ocean.

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By Friday night, agents arrested eight people they suspect had been on the boat. The seven Mexican men and one Mexican woman, ages 22 to 39, are believed to have entered the United States illegally, the agency said.

Border Patrol agents also arrested seven suspected smugglers, some of whom the agency believes had acted as getaway drivers in Friday’s event. Of the seven, three are Mexican, and four are U.S. citizens.

The agency also seized four vehicles they believe were used in the alleged smuggling scheme.

Figueroa writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.


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