Feds Shoot Human Smuggler’s Boat Engine off California Coast

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations agents seize a 35-foot panga off the coast of California with 18 Mexican illegal aliens onboard. (Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Air and Marine Operations)
File Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Air and Marine Operations

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations (AMO) interceptor boat crew shot out the engine of a human smuggler’s boat off the coast of California on Friday. A second smuggler’s boat managed to make it to shore and off-loaded its passengers. Border Patrol agents apprehended the migrants from the beached craft.

A CBP AMO multi-role enforcement aircraft crew spotted two panga boats suspected of running a smuggling load as they crossed from Mexican territorial waters into the United States coastal waters on Friday morning shortly after midnight. The aircrew directed an AMO coastal interceptor boat crew to interdict one of the pangas and a U.S. Coast Guard small boat to interdict the second.

At about 3:30 a.m., the AMO maritime crew reached the first panga and signaled the boat to stop using lights and a siren. The driver of the boat failed to yield and attempted to flee from the AMO agents, officials stated. The marine interdiction agents fired two warning shots directing the boat to stop — it did not.

The agents then fired a round targeted at the panga’s engine and disabled the craft. The pursuit came to a stop about five miles off the California coast near Point Loma.

Marine interdiction agents boarded the suspected smuggling vessel and found seven people on board.

The Coast Guard boat reached the second panga which also failed to yield, officials reported. The Coast Guard continued to pursue the panga until it beached itself on Ocean Beach in San Diego.

Border Patrol agents met the craft as it landed on what is known as Dog Beach and apprehended four people after they attempted to exit the boat and flee on foot.

An AMO aircrew maintained surveillance from their position above and directed other Border Patrol agents to a nearby park. These agents apprehended nine additional migrants.

One other person attempted to flee by swimming away from the agents on the beach. A witness called law enforcement and reported the position of the swimmer on Dog Beach. Agents responded to the jetty area and apprehended the subject.

The AMO maritime crew transported their load of illegal aliens with the smuggling boat in tow to the dock where they turned them over to Border Patrol agents. The agents interviewed the illegal aliens and identified them as Mexican national — six men ages 19-50 and a 29-year-old woman.

The other agents interviewed those apprehended on the beach and identified them as all being Mexican nationals illegally present in the U.S. The group consisted of three women, ages 27-40; ten men, ages 18-45; and one unaccompanied alien minor.

AMO officials seized both panga boats.

“We had multiple agencies involved in bringing this dangerous smuggling attempt to a safe conclusion,” said Christopher Hunter, Director of Marine Operations for AMO in San Diego. “Smugglers have no regard for the lives and safety of everyone on board when they make reckless maritime maneuvers.”

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior news contributor for the Breitbart Texas-Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Price is a regular panelist on Fox 26 Houston’s What’s Your Point? Sunday-morning talk show. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.


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