IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. (KGTV) — One person is dead after a failed human smuggling attempt resulted in a large group of people attempting to illegally swim round the border barrier and make their way to the beach at Border Field State Park in San Diego.
The incident involved California U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard, as well as San Diego Fire Department firefighters and lifeguards Friday night, according to the San Diego Sector of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Just before midnight, agents came across an unresponsive woman believed to be from the group of swimmers. They performed CPR on the woman, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.
“This is yet another example of the ruthless tactics smuggling organizations use to bolster their power and profits.” said San Diego Sector’s Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke. “We will work tirelessly to pursue and bring to justice those responsible for this tragedy.”
The following morning, a coast guard cutter and CBP boat flashing blue lights could be seen offshore.
Vera, a resident in the Imperial Beach neighborhood, says she was enjoying her usual walk along the beach when she saw two women in the water.
"I've never seen that and I've done this walk for over a month now," said Vera.
“I seen them in the area [where] you're not supposed to cross in the water."
The resident says she crossed paths with the women before Border Patrol agents took them into custody.
"They walked by and they asked us 'why aren't we in the water?' and I said it's contaminated and they said 'Oh why don't you come to our beaches? They're a lot cleaner.'"
Border Patrol agents took a total of 36 adult Mexican nationals into custody who had swam around the border barrier, 25 men and 11 women. They were taken into custody and transported to a nearby Border Patrol station for processing.
Over the past year, Border Patrol has intercepted 312 maritime-related events and made over 16-hundred arrests off the coast of San Diego.
Officials have since increased operations to stop illegal crossings at sea, which can prove to be extremely dangerous and even deadly.