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18 arrested in separate smuggling incidents off San Diego coast

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Posted at 4:32 PM, Feb 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-07 13:19:19-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Border agents arrested 18 people in two separate maritime smuggling incidents off San Diego's coast Thursday.

The first event happened just before 1:30 a.m. after CBP Air and Marine Operations detected a suspicious boat entering U.S. waters. The boat was traveling without lights several miles off-shore when U.S. Coast Guard officials helped intercept the vessel.

Eight people were arrested — seven men and a woman — and were transferred into Border Patrol custody. All eight admitted to being Mexican nationals illegally in the U.S. One person was identified as a suspected smuggler and is facing criminal charges.

RELATED: Second person dies after smuggling boat capsizes off Imperial Beach coast

The second incident also happened Thursday hours later. Just before 4 a.m., a panga boat was spotted about six miles off Point Loma by San Diego Harbor Police's Joint Harbor Operations Center. USCG officials intercepted the boat about an hour later and found 10 people on board.

The 10 people — nine Mexican nationals and one Guatemalan national — were detained and turned over to Border Patrol. All 10 also admitted to being in the U.S. illegally. Two men that were part of the group were identified as smugglers and also face criminal charges.

All 18 people are being held in Department of Homeland Security custody.