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Border authorities find boat with 20 on board at sea off La Jolla

Federal officials said 20 people were on board this panga June 20 about 18 nautical miles off the La Jolla coast.
Customs and Border Protection officials said 20 people were on board this panga June 20 about 18 nautical miles off the La Jolla coast.
(Courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

The panga was discovered with 12 men and eight women aboard, Customs and Border Protection says.

Federal authorities intercepted a panga carrying 20 people suspected of being undocumented immigrants late June 20 about 18 nautical miles off the coast of La Jolla, Customs and Border Protection officials said.

Customs agents detected the small boat, operating without lights, around 11 p.m. and directed a Coast Guard boat to its location, according to a Customs and Border Protection news release.

Three of the people on board requested medical attention and were taken to hospitals for treatment of unspecified maladies, according to the news release. Border Patrol agents took the 17 other people into custody.

Authorities determined that the group consisted of 10 men and four women from Mexico, two men and two women from Guatemala and two women from El Salvador.

Attempted border crossings by sea have become more common in the past few years, and in May three Mexican nationals died and several others were injured in the water near Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma after their boat crashed on a reef in large surf. Another person died a few weeks later in La Jolla when a panga that had been holding more than a dozen people capsized near the shore.

In response to the increased ocean crossings, the Border Patrol in San Diego this month re-established a marine unit focused on intercepting smugglers who bring migrants and drugs into the country by sea. ◆