16 aboard fishing boat arrested in suspected smuggling attempt


SAN DIEGO — Border Patrol agents Saturday arrested 16 people on board a sports fishing boat suspected in a smuggling attempt, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Tuesday.

All 16 people on board, including a 15-year-old unaccompanied teen, were suspected of entering the county illegally, authorities said. They were taken to a nearby Border Patrol station for processing.

At around 7:45 p.m., USBP said agents spotted a 25-foot sports fishing vessel that appeared to be heavy in the water and had several people on board entering the Mission Bay channel. 

When agents conducted a vessel stop, they questioned the two operators and three people on deck, the USBP said. A further inspection of the craft revealed 11 additional people inside the cabin.

A 30-year-old Mexican national, who was the operator of the vessel, and the co-operator, a 50-year-old Mexican national, were placed under arrest and face federal human smuggling charges. The vessel was also seized by Border Patrol agents.

“Smuggling along the California coastline is not only illegal, it is inherently dangerous for all involved parties,” Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke said. “I’m thankful our agents and partners are out there daily to intercept such incidents.”

To report suspicious activity to the U.S. Border Patrol, contact San Diego Sector at (619) 498-9900.

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