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Possible human smuggling boat found in Del Mar beach

Posted at 6:14 PM, May 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-05 09:44:12-04

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV)— United States Customs and Border Protection agents are investigating another small boat that washed ashore. Evidence suggested this may have be part of a human or drug smuggling operation.

Norman Orth was strolling on a popular trail, nestled between the train tracks and a luxury coastal neighborhood. But his morning walk ended with a call to 9-1-1.

“There was the boat, just drifting and floating in the water,” Orth said.

At around 6:30 am Saturday, the Del Mar resident saw Sheriff's deputies and lifeguards tend to the abandoned panga boat. They pulled out several life vests, backpacks, and gas cans. The evidence suggested this may have been a human smuggling operation. The San Diego Sheriffs department contacted Customs and Border Protection about the discovery.

“Nothing unusual. I have seen it before. Happens in the neighborhood,” Orth said.

Last October, 10News did a story about human smuggling operation-gone-wrong, where a boat exploded off the coast of Point Loma, killing at least two Mexican nationals.

In the last year, there have been several dozen suspicious fishing boats discovered all along the San Diego Coast. Last March, several people were detained after being spotted on a panga boat in Imperial Beach. CBP arrested ten more people in the same situation, last May in La Jolla.

CBP agents and the Coast Guard often find abandoned boats along the San Diego coastline. Last June, authorities discovered a fishing boat at Windansea Beach with evidence of human and possibly drug smuggling.
Then in September, witnesses saw 25 people jump out of another panga boat that washed ashore in Pacific Beach. They were not caught.

CBP recently officials told 10News that they have seen an increase in water crossings. Some agents believe talks about the President’s Border Wall are fueling maritime attempts, where people are going further north to avoid detection.

“The use of boats for both human smuggling and drug smuggling is always a concern for us,” CBP officials told 10News in a statement Saturday.

But for Orth, he said this is just a part of life.

“That type of thing happens in Del Mar on the coast, so you get used to it,” Orth said.