SAN DIEGO–U.S. Customs and Border Protection San Diego Sector is strengthening its presence along California’s coastline in an effort to curb human and drug smuggling routes being exploited by transnational criminal organizations.
This effort concurrently prevents further introduction of COVID-19 into California communities.
Maritime smuggling has become commonplace along the Pacific coastline and San Diego is proactively addressing the growing threat. Fiscal year to date, San Diego Sector Border Patrol has recorded 129 maritime events, which led to 485 arrests and the seizure of nearly 6,642 pounds of illegal drugs. This is compared to fiscal year 2019, when agents recorded 194 maritime events, which led to 660 arrests and more than 19,000 pounds of seized contraband.
Criminal organizations that exploit our Pacific border often use overloaded vessels that are not equipped to handle rough, ocean waters. The vessels also lack legally required safety lighting, are overcrowded with cargo and/or people, and have inferior engine and fuel compartments. These smuggling attempts often turn into rescue missions that require additional USBP assets as well as assets from other local first responders.
As an example, one February 2020 maritime event turned into a significant rescue operation.
To deter the illegal maritime events from occurring, the Border Patrol is deploying additional patrol units to the coastal border. This will include the use of the sector’s Horse Patrol Unit (HPU), which has been utilized since USBP’s inception. Nationwide, these units allow agents to patrol rugged terrain that is not easily accessible via 4×4 vehicles or ATV’s.