15 Arrested in California Maritime Human Smuggling Operation

San Diego Sector Border Patrol agents arrest nine Mexican nationals and six human smugglers involved in a maritime smuggling operation. (Photo: U.S. Border Patrol/San Diego Sector)
Photo: U.S. Border Patrol/San Diego Sector

San Diego Sector Border Patrol agents arrested 15 people in connection to an offshore human smuggling operation near Mission Bay, California. The arrests included six smugglers and nine migrants.

Agents patrolling near Mission Bay observed suspicious behavior on a Cabin Cruiser fishing boat at the Ski Beach launch ramp, according to information provided by San Diego Sector Border Patrol officials. The agents approached the boat and conducted an immigration interview with the 15 people involved in the operation.

During the interviews, the agents determined ten of the passengers were illegally present in the United States. Further investigation revealed six of the people were human smugglers attempting to move the other nine migrants into the U.S. via their watercraft.

Agents transported all 15 people to the Border Patrol station for processing. During processing, agents identified the nine migrants as Mexican nationals, ages 27-41, illegally present in the U.S. They identified the boat’s captain as a 46-year-old Mexican national. The five remaining alleged smugglers were identified as U.S. citizens including four men, ages 20-30, and a 25-year-old woman.

Agents seized the boat and three vehicles that were to be used to transport the migrants as they got off the boat, officials stated.

The six alleged human smugglers now face federal prosecution for alien smuggling under 8 USC 1324. If convicted on the felony charges, each could face up to 10 years in federal prison.

The nine passengers being smuggled will be processed for removal under CBP guidelines.

During a press conference earlier this month, Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan told reporters that Mexican cartels and other transnational criminal organizations involved in human smuggling are shifting their tactics and operations following the success of President Donald Trump’s new programs that dropped migrant family border crossings by 94 percent in eight months.

Morgan said Border Patrol agents are now reporting a massive decrease in Central American migrant families being smuggled and an increase in single adult migrants from Mexico, Breitbart Texas reported.

“Since we’ve all but addressed the crisis of the Northern Triangle countries, they’re looking to other vulnerable groups,” the commissioner said. “They’re doing this because we’ve hurt their pocketbooks — significantly.”

“Now we’re seeing more individuals from Mexico,” he continued. “This time last year, about 61 percent of those we were encountering were from the Northern Triangle countries. Now, eight months later, that same percentage, about 61 percent, are actually Mexican nationals and the majority of those are single adults.”

The commissioner cited a 32 percent increase in the apprehension of single adult Mexican nationals over last year.

“We’re in a very different place than we were just eight months ago,” the commissioner concluded. “Now, regardless of the numbers, regardless of the demographics, we have the tools, because of this president and because of this administration, to apply a removal, a return, or a consequence to 95 percent of those that CBP are encountering rather than letting them go into the interior of the United States.”

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for the Breitbart Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.

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