U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detained 18 people on Dec. 21 believed to have illegally entered the country, after their boat sped past two CBP agents who were investigating another boat in Newport Harbor in Southern California.
Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s Harbor Patrol was called to the 2200 block of Newport Boulevard at around 7:30 a.m. regarding a suspicious abandoned boat that was unfamiliar, Sgt. Todd Hylton told The Epoch Times.
“When we got there, there were signs in that boat of potential [human] smuggling,” he said. “At that point, we contacted Border Patrol, who took over that investigation.”
After CBP agents arrived on scene investigating the boat, agents witnessed a “heavily laden recreational vessel” speeding through Newport Harbor at about 12:15 p.m., according to a statement released by CBP.
The agents called for assistance from CBP officers at the Port of Long Beach, who were able to intercept the boat, which led to the discovery of the 18 illegal immigrants. They were all taken into custody and transported to the San Clemente Border Patrol Station for processing.
CBP said the agency is working to identify, intercept, and disrupt criminal organizations operating in Southern California, with smugglers often using pleasure crafts and repurposed Mexican fishing vessels called “pangas” to smuggle migrants and drugs into the region.