Agents bust suspected smuggling boat off La Jolla coast

SAN DIEGO — A boat containing a suspected human smuggler and nine Mexican nationals was intercepted off the La Jolla coast, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials reported Thursday.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations air unit spotted the recreational boat being operated without running lights roughly 14 miles west of the Coronado Islands around 1 a.m. Tuesday. Agents boarded the vessel, containing eight men and two women, around 3 a.m. roughly 24 nautical miles offshore from La Jolla.

When interviewed by federal agents, the passengers admitted to being Mexican citizens and said they intended to illegally enter the U.S., according to CBP officials. The agents identified one of the men as a suspected human smuggler. That man, whose name was not released, now faces criminal charges, according to federal officials.