SAN DIEGO–U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine agents stopped a boat off the coast of San Diego early Thursday morning with 18 people on board trying to illegally enter the U.S.
At about 10:15 p.m. on Wednesday, June 24, the crew of a multirole enforcement aircraft on routine patrol off the coast of San Diego spotted a panga running with no lights, out at sea, leaving Mexican territorial waters headed to the U.S. The crew tracked the panga before handing it off to the crew of a second multi-role enforcement aircraft, who continued to track the boat. At the same time, two crews aboard coastal interceptor vessels made their way towards the panga.
“The crews aboard both aircraft were critical to the initial detection and continued tracking of the vessel,” said Tim Sutherland, Director of Air and Marine Operations for Customs and Border Protection in San Diego.
At about 2 a.m., the Customs and Border Protection marine interdiction agents aboard one of the boats intercepted the panga about 35 nautical miles off the coast of San Diego and stopped the boat without incident.
Agents encountered 18 adults aboard the boat, 16 men and two women. Both coastal interceptor crews transported the group of 18 to the dock, where they were turned over to U.S. Border Patrol agents. All 18 were Mexican nationals with no legal status in the U.S. and were taken to a nearby Border Patrol station for further processing.
Customs and Border Protection marine interdiction agents seized the 35-foot panga.