SAN DIEGO — San Diego Border Patrol agents recovered two firearms during two separate incidents this week, US Customs and Border Protection said Thursday.

The first incident occurred around 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 9 when a 17-year-old male in a dark-colored Chevy pickup truck was referred for an additional inspection at the Interstate 8 checkpoint in Pine Valley. Border officials said agents questioned the driver and later searched the vehicle.

During their search, agents found a loaded 9mm P80 handgun without a serial number and a 30-round magazine inside a handbag. The driver, firearm, magazine and ammunition were turned over to the San Diego County Sherriff’s Office (SDSO).

The second seizure occurred shortly before 12:15 p.m. on Jan. 10, just one day later. CBP said contractors, who were repairing damage to the border infrastructure near Imperial Beach, found a loaded 9mm semiautomatic pistol north of the primary border fence. Both the firearm and magazine were turned over to Border Patrol and transported to the Joint California Forensic Center for processing, according to officials.

“We have seen an increase in armed encounters,” said San Diego Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke. “In 2022, our agents seized more than 60 firearms, an increase of almost 50 percent when compared to 2021.”

CBP explained that these two instances occurred less than a week after an El Paso Border Patrol agent assigned to the Lordsburg, New Mexico Station was shot by an armed smuggler during a vehicle stop. The agent in this incident survived and the suspect was later arrested after a pursuit ensued, CBP said.

“We never know who we’ll encounter as we patrol the border,” Heitke added. “Our agents are the first line of defense against smugglers who have become more aggressive and brazen in their attempts to bring people and narcotics into our country.”

CBP encouraged the public to report suspicious activity to Border Patrol by contacting the San Diego sector at 619-498-9900.