Panga with 20 onboard intercepted at sea

SAN DIEGO — DHS partners interdicted a panga boat at sea with undocumented migrants on board Saturday night, January 9, according to a press release.

At approximately 11:20 p.m., an Air and Marine Operations (AMO) Multi-Role Enforcement Aircraft (MEA) crew spotted a suspicious vessel off the coast of San Diego. The MEA crew vectored in an AMO Marine Unit crew, who interdicted the panga boat approximately a quarter mile west of the Point Loma shoreline. Inside the boat were a total of 17 male Mexican nationals and three female Mexican nationals.

“AMO agents and our Regional Law Enforcement partners remain vigilant, dedicated, and focused on detecting, intercepting, and disrupting human smuggling attempts off the coast of southern California,” said Michael Montgomery, director of the San Diego Air and Marine Branch. “This interdiction is another example of AMO’s unique capabilities, which combines technology, aviation, and maritime assets and the expertise of our dedicated agents to safeguard our homeland.”

AMO personnel escorted the boat to Ballast Point where US Border Patrol (USBP) agents were waiting. Agents determined that all 20 migrants were unlawfully present in the US. All individuals were taken to a local Border Patrol Station for processing.

San Diego Sector (SDC) Border Patrol documented a record 309 maritime smuggling events during fiscal year 2020. This fiscal year to date, SDC has recorded 80 maritime smuggling events.

“As a constant reminder to the public, if you see something out of the ordinary near the coast, don’t hesitate to call authorities,” said CPA Aaron M. Heitke. “These vessels are dangerously overloaded and unsafe in the ever-changing ocean conditions. Smugglers exploit migrants and put lives in significant danger for their own profit.”

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