9 arrested in suspected human smuggling attempt off Oceanside coast

Federal authorities arrested nine people Monday after intercepting a boat off the Oceanside coast, foiling a suspected human smuggling attempt, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.

The operation marked the 64th time since October that federal authorities shut down a maritime smuggling attempt in the San Diego area, Border Patrol Agent Jeffrey Stephenson said in a news release. Last fiscal year — from October 2019 to September 2020 — they foiled 309 local maritime missions.

According to Stephenson, the U.S. Coast Guard spotted and stopped the pleasure craft and its nine passengers about 7:30 a.m. The Coast Guard escorted the captured boat to Oceanside Harbor, where Border Patrol agents were waiting.

All nine passengers were Mexican and did not have permission to be in the United States, Stephenson said. Three are believed to be part of the smuggling crew. Of the remaining six people, three were taken into custody as material witnesses, the agent said.