Deserted Island Being Used By Illegal Immigrants

Immigrants Make Stop At ‘Smuggle Island’ On Way To United States

10News uncovered a deserted island and the risky operation that is making it possible for illegal immigrants to sneak into San Diego.

Abandoned fishing pangas have become a common sight on San Diego beaches. Very rarely are the passengers found, since they are illegal immigrants who are smuggled into the United States in the dark of night.

Illegal border crossings are down, according to the Department of Homeland Security. However, the number of immigrants using the sea to illegally enter the United States in panga boats is up.

10News rode along with a group called the Desert Angels to learn more about the route immigrants take.

The Angels told 10News immigrant smugglers use an island, known as "Smuggle Island" in the northern part of Mexico's Coronado Islands in an attempt to throw off U.S. tracking techniques.

Some immigrants are temporarily dropped off at the island. However, when the weather is bad or when the U.S. Coast Guard is searching for illegal immigrants, the immigrants are sometimes left behind for days without food or water.

"Two months ago, before we left the food, we found five people that [were] stuck in that place," said Rafael Hernandez of the Desert Angels. "No one picked them up... [They said] they [were] left behind... [and] abandoned."

Hernandez and the Desert Angels said they have no political agenda but exist to ensure that human beings do not die because they are without food or water. They leave supplies on immigrant trails in the desert and on the uninhabitable island.

As Hernandez and his partner Ricardo Esquivias unloaded the food and water, they found an empty water bottle, which is evidence that the Angels' last drop-off served its purpose.

The Angels worked quickly because they have crossed paths in the past with drug traffickers who also used the islands.

When they finished dropping off the food and water, the Desert Angels searched the island for abandoned immigrants who may be hiding and in need of medical care.

No immigrants were found, but the Angels found a compass at the top of a hill, which could mean the island was used recently.

Less than 30 minutes after arriving at the island, the Desert Angels finished their work and headed back.

"If we bring food and water for them and they use it, then that means we are doing something good for them," said Esquivias. "We feel good."

For more information about the Desert Angels, visit the Desert Angels website.