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Questions raised with increase in panga boat rescues in San Diego waters

Posted at 12:56 PM, May 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-20 15:56:04-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – A rescue involving a suspected smuggling boat off the coast of La Jolla on Thursday is the third of its kind in recent weeks, and the increase in maritime smuggling attempts has raised many concerns.

In addition to the incident on Thursday, in which one person died, another rescue was conducted earlier in the week in the waters off Point Loma.

Several weeks ago, a dramatic scene took place in the waters near the Cabrillo National Monument in which a boat carrying at least 30 people crashed and capsized, sending people into the water and killing three.

Border Patrol officials said they have seen a surge in the number of people trying to get into the U.S. by way of the water.

“These are basically open-pole fishing vessels. They’re overloading the with occupants, gas cans, sometimes they’re pushing these vessels on shore,” said Border Patrol Agent Jacob MacIssac.

Last year, Border Patrol took 1,300 people into custody. This year, they’ve already taken in 1,100 people.

Local immigration advocates said the inherent risk isn’t enough to keep people from doing this.

Enrique Morones, with the group Gente Unida, said, “Both countries need to do more the US and its policies and the country they are coming from in providing opportunities for these people, so they don't need to leave."

Morones added officials need to find another way to get the word out and across the border about the dangers of trying to enter the country illegally, especially on the water.

“I've reached out to the Border Patrol and the Mexican council and said I'd be happy to make public service announcements to tell people do not risk your lives crossing into the ocean trusting the smugglers,” Morones said.