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Vessel carrying 22 illegal immigrants intercepted

Twenty-two illegal immigrants were found aboard a 25-foot panga boat about 8 miles off the coast of Leucadia, border officials announced Thursday.

The boat was spotted around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday by the U.S. Coast Guard, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

A CBP vessel was dispatched to intercept and a short chase ensued, with the immigrants’ boat eventually stopping about 14 miles west of La Jolla.

One woman and 21 men aboard the panga were arrested. All were wearing personal flotation devices and all were Mexican citizens, according to CBP.

The panga, according to a variety of boat-building Internet sites, is the Mexican/Central American version of an open skiff, a narrow, fishing-style boat. The vessel is usually between 19 and 28 feet long, capable of speeds in excess of 35 knots, and considered extremely seaworthy.