Human Smugglers ‘Dump’ 16 Migrants 1 Mile off California Coast

Air and Marine Operations (AMO) boat crew intercepts a boat smuggling a load of migrants off the coast of California. (Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection/San Diego Sector)
File Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection/San Diego Sector

Human smugglers from Mexico forced 16 migrants to jump into the Pacific Ocean about one mile off the California coast near Del Mar. Three are missing after what officials called a “dump and run” smuggling tactic.

San Diego Sector Border Patrol agents received notice from the Joint Harbor Operations Center on February 28 about multiple migrants showing up on the beach near 12th Street in Del Mar. Border Patrol agents, CBP Air and Marine Operations, and U.S. Coast Guard assets immediately responded to the area, according to information obtained from San Diego Sector Border Patrol officials.

First responders found 10 migrants on the beach and three others that Encinitas Life Guards rescued by boat. The rescuers transported all 13, including three teens, to area hospitals for treatment for hypothermia, officials stated. Agents identified the migrants as four adult females, six adult males, a 15-year-old female, and 13- and 15-year-old males — all Mexican nationals.

The migrants reported they were forced to jump into the ocean and swim to shore despite being nearly a mile offshore and outside the surf line.

Dive teams searched for the missing migrants but by evening, the search wound down. Officials said it is not known if the missing migrants drowned or made it to shore and scattered.

Del Mar Fire Chief Mike Stein called the smuggling tactic a “dump and run,” Fox 5 San Diego reported from the area.

“This is another example of smugglers placing profit over human life,” San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke said. “They forced women and children into deep ocean water and abandoned them.”

Officials searched for the panga boat believed to be heading back to Mexico. It appears the two human smugglers escaped capture.

Assets involved in the search and rescue operation included Del Mar Lifeguards; the San Diego County Sheriff’s Dive Team; the Coast Guard Cutter Sockeye crew; Air and Marine boat crew; a Coast Guard Station San Diego 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew; and a Sector San Diego MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew.

So far this fiscal year, which began on October 1, 2019, San Diego Sector agents and their partners apprehended 368 attempting to illegally enter the United States via maritime smuggling operations, officials stated.

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

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