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Deadly smuggling by sea attempts concern immigration advocates

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Posted at 6:46 PM, Apr 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-11 21:46:16-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A dead body washed ashore at Ocean Beach on Monday afternoon.

"I wasn't even paying attention. I just walked up to use the bathroom and was asked to go around and that's when I looked up and saw the bag on the ground," said witness Leslee Holley.

Holley was shocked by the encounter.

San Diego Fire and Rescue cannot confirm but say it’s a possibility the body is that of someone who was on board a panga boat that capsized in the water south of the Ocean Beach Pier Sunday morning.

RELATED: Man's body found on Dog Beach in Ocean Beach

Three people were injured and one died, according to authorities. On Monday, 37- year-old Mexican national Eleobardo Garcia Lopezwas identified as one of the victims who died.

Authorities said the panga boat was carrying 10 suspected migrants.

“We are very concerned that we have seen an increase of maritime attempts to cross, which has resulted in an increase number of death,“ said Dulce Garcia, Border Angels.

The growing number of smuggling by sea incidents isn’t new. In fact, a Customs and Border Protection spokesperson said agents caught another smuggling by sea attempt later that same morning.

Just this week there have been at least five of these attempts in the San Diego area. Last year there were more than a handful.

Border Angels is doing outreach to spread the message to migrants that this isn’t safe.

"Border angels supports 17 shelters in Tijuana and every month we meet with the director and we emphasize the same message to them so they relay it to the folks that are in their spaces,” said Garcia.

Border angels said they have also started a program that helps return the bodies of loved ones recovered while attempting to cross into the U.S. whether by sea or through the desert.