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Boat found abandoned on O.C. beach may have been used for human smuggling

An abandoned panga-style boat that may have been used for human smuggling was discovered Monday morning on a beach in Orange County, authorities said.

Authorities discovered the boat around 7:30 a.m. at Crystal Cove State Park near Reef Point.

“There were no people. It was already abandoned. There was just remnants in the boat,” said Sgt. Jim Cota of the Laguna Beach Police Department.

“We got there and we’re here like 10 minutes and realized there’s no need for us to be here.”

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Border Patrol agents from the San Clemente Station were notified around 6:40 a.m. that a 20-foot boat had made landfall on the beach, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Ralph DeSio.

“Agents responded to the scene, where the initial investigation indicated approximately 12 people disembarked the boat and are unaccounted for,” DeSio said.

“Agents continue to search for the individuals.”

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The number of migrants arrested for making illegal crossings has not decreased even in the face of more bellicose rhetoric from President Trump. In addition, Trump has enacted a new “zero tolerance” policy, which has led to families being separated after crossing illegally.

While most of these illegal crossings are occurring by land, some migrants have tried to make the trek by sea.

In March, 13 Mexican immigrants were taken into custody after San Diego lifeguards intercepted a panga-style boat in La Jolla. There was a motor on the boat but the migrants were using oars in an effort to make landfall.

In 2010, eight to 10 people reportedly came ashore at Crystal Cove State Park in a small boat.

These small speedboats have also been used by smugglers to move drugs into the country.

“Transnational criminal organizations show complete disregard for human life when they put monetary gain over the health and safety of the illegal aliens they smuggle. Please report any suspicious activity in the future by calling 619-498-9900,” DeSio said.

benjamin.oreskes@latimes.com

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Twitter: @boreskes


UPDATES:

2:40 p.m.: This post was updated with comments from DeSio.

This article was originally published at 10:30 a.m.


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