SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Customs and Border Protection officials are unveiling their newest tools in the fight against smuggling off the San Diego coast.
The new Coastal Interdiction Vessel will help agent track down boats and other vessels that are smuggling drugs or undocumented immigrants.
CBP officials said they have seen an increase in maritime smuggling and crossings, with some belief that discussion of a possible border wall is fueling those attempts by sea.
Officials also said smugglers are sailing further out and farther north to avoid detection, usually launching from Rosarito or Ensenada.
Sea crossings can be dangerous, and according to officials, smugglers often overload their boats to maximize profits and people on board usually do not wear life vests.
CBP agents tell 10News the new vessels are high-tech. They can go farther from shore, travel faster, and allow for significantly longer missions. There are important new safety measures, as well. That includes the ability for the marine agents on board to see the video being shot by cameras on the plane overhead.
“Are people maybe loading up with weapons? Do we need to take a stand back and maybe involve other people for assistance? Or is it humanitarian that the aircraft is looking at an overladen boat that is about to sink? Shoot, we need to hurry up and get out there," said Agent Kristofer Goland.
CBP currently has three of the new vessels in use, with two more expected in the future.