Marc Endicott, San Diego Border Patrol agent, said that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has apprehended 586 similar attempts in the fiscal year 2010 in San Diego alone, up from 400 arrests the year before.
“Our speculation is that we’re gaining more operational control of the land border in San Diego, and because of that … smugglers are looking for more elaborate and even more dangerous means to smuggle human cargo,” Endicott said.
Monday’s incident involved 13 males and four females who apparently all reached shore by way of a panga boat, or Mexican fishing vessel, about 30 minutes after Coast Guard officials spotted the boat approaching La Jolla’s coastline.
“In many cases, these boats are used and they’re overloaded, which makes them very dangerous,” Endicott said.
Most smuggling attempts are conducted by highly-organized groups who charge a substantial sum to migrants, he added.
Authorities have apprehended smugglers from Imperial Beach all the way to beaches and harbors in Orange County and Los Angeles “and all points in between,” Endicott said. Most originate from Mexico and carry human cargo, but some instances involve drug smuggling as well. Endicott speculated that boats travel so far north to avoid what they may perceive as heavier patrolling near the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We’re in collaboration with law enforcement agencies, the Coast Guard and local sheriff and police departments to act as a force multiplier” in order to tackle the surge of smuggling attempts, Endicott said. “Border Patrol is also highly intelligence driven, so we try to apprehend these attempts before they happen.”