Human Smuggling Interdiction by Air, Sea, Land Operation Yields 9 Arrests

CBP AMO air and marine crews interdicted a human smuggling panga off the California coast. (Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Air and Marine Operations)
Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Air and Marine Operations

Land, sea, and ground-based federal agents disrupted a human smuggler attempt off the coast of California led to the arrest of nine migrants. The smugglers attempted to use the cover of darkness to move the migrants in a panga from Mexico to California.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations (AMO) aircrew onboard a Multi-role Enforcement Aircraft on the night of August 20 detected a single-engine boat headed from Mexico to California. The aircrew relayed information about the panga to a San Diego Air and Marine Branch (SDAMB) Coastal Interceptor Vessel crew and guided them to the location of the now-failed smuggling incident, according to information obtained from U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.

The interceptor crew interdicted the Mexican panga and attempted to stop the vessel by activating their lights and siren. The captain of the small boat failed to stop and continued on. The CBP AMO crew fired “disabling rounds” into the engine of the fleeing human smuggler’s panga bringing the chase to a successful conclusion about 12 miles off the coast of Carlsbad, California.

The AMO agents boarded the craft and found nine subjects on board. They towed the disabled craft to the harbor and turned the nine subjects over to awaiting U.S. Border Patrol agents. The agents took custody of the occupants and transported them to the station for processing and further investigation.

“AMO agents and our Regional Law Enforcement partners remain vigilant, committed and focused on detecting, intercepting and disrupting smuggling attempts off the Southern California coast, San Diego Air and Marine Branch Director Timothy Sutherland said in a written statement. “This interdiction is another example of AMO’s unique capabilities, which combines technology, aviation, and maritime assets and the training and expertise of our dedicated agents.”

So far this fiscal year, which began on October 1, 2019, SDAMB agents assisted in the apprehension of 2,618 people, CBP officials stated. In addition to its impact on offshore human smuggling, the agents also contributed to the seizure of 480 pounds of cocaine, 199,307 pounds of marijuana, 191 pounds of fentanyl, 114 pounds of heroin, 2,948 pounds of methamphetamine, 80 weapons, and 81 vehicles/vessels.

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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