Empty panga found on North County beach

An empty panga was found beached in the surfline near Solana Beach Tuesday morning.

SOLANA BEACH, Calif. – Authorities were investigating the discovery of an empty panga that was beached in the surfline on a North County beach Tuesday morning.

The boat was reported at about 7:45 a.m. at Fletcher Cove Beach Park near the end of South Sierra Avenue in Solana Beach, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.

Helicopter video showed the open fiberglass fishing boat with an outboard motor with its bow in the sand and it’s stern in the surf. Two lifeguards were examining the boat.

“An abandoned panga was found this morning in Solana Beach that appeared to have been used for human smuggling,” Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Jackie Wasiluk said.

In recent years, immigrant smugglers have used pangas to ferry boatloads of people from Mexico to San Diego County beaches. Typically, they beach the boats and the crew and passengers flee into nearby neighborhoods.

Border Patrol agents  searched the area near where the boat was found. As of 11:30 a.m., they had not found anyone, Wasiluk said.