CBP Apprehend 34 People Off 2 Boats, Rescue 1 in Mountains in 24 Hrs

Customs and Border Protection had a busy 24 hours over Thanksgiving weekend, apprehending 34 people in two separate maritime smuggling incidents and rescuing one man left behind by smugglers near Lake Morena.

A 34-year-old Mexican national was found suffering from a “significant leg injury” with limited food and water in the mountains after being left behind by a smuggling organization near Lake Morena around 4 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 1, Theron S. Francisco with U.S. Border Patrol said.

After the San Diego Sheriff’s Department notified Border Patrol Agents of a distress call from the stranded man, agents found him and took him to an ambulance. He required extensive surgery, Francisco said.

The second incident occurred miles away on the open ocean where a suspicious boat entered U.S. waters around 11:15 a.m. on Sunday. CBP Air and Marine Operations stopped the boat about 1 mile off Point Loma, according to U.S. Border Patrol.

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CBP said 21 people between aged 19 and 59 were taken into custody off the 25-foot motor boat. Four of those 21 were suspected smugglers, including two U.S. citizens, and the remaining people were Mexican citizens, Francisco added.

Photo credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

The third incident took place just after midnight on Monday, Dec. 2 when a plane detected a panga about 13 miles from San Clemente. After refusing to stop, the boat beached itself around 1 a.m. near T-Street Beach, CBP said.

Agents pursued the 14 people who fled the boat after it landed and apprehended 13 people, including 11 Mexican nationals and two Chinese nationals.

All 34 people arrested in the maritime events are in DHS custody, U.S. Border Patrol said.

These incidents come after U.S. Border Patrol agents and San Diego Lifeguards trapped in a drainage tube in the Tijuana River Valley area on Thanksgiving day as storms flooded the tunnels, creating a dangerous environment for both parties.

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