Residents of a California beach community witnessed a surprising incident as a small boat packed with illegal aliens made landfall. The migrants made their way to the beach resort located about 100 miles from the Mexican border in a small panga boat.
Officials with the Laguna Beach Police Department tweeted a video showing the boat making landfall early Thursday morning and 13 illegal aliens running on shore. Police say that U.S. Border Patrol agents responded quickly and took custody of seven of the migrants and two suspected human smugglers who were allegedly waiting to pick up the migrants, the Orange County Register reported.
Laguna Beach PD, Marine Safety, and @CBP are still in the area searching on foot for additional panga boat passengers after the obtained video shows 13 individuals fleeing from the boat. Currently, 7 are detained. pic.twitter.com/ETvZ2gAr4f
— Laguna Beach Police (@LagunaBeachPD) November 29, 2018
Laguna Beach Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock told the local newspaper, “They (local residents) saw two men running for the cliffs. Officers were on scene in five minutes and immediately detained the two men who had ditched their life vests on the sand.”
A short time later, police found five more men hiding in the bushes and placed them in custody.
U.S. Border Patrol Agent Vincent Pirro told the local newspaper that of the two smugglers, one was a U.S. citizen and the other, an illegal alien on a “non-immigrant visa overstay.”
Officials said the panga boat is designed to carry up to 15 passengers. The video above shows 13 men running away from the boat and Border Patrol agents found 13 life vests, the Register reported. The agents seized the boat and nine gas cans.
Pirro said these types of long journeys are not that uncommon for human smuggling operations. “We see them leave from Ensenada a lot. They go around the Coronado Islands and north. They’ve gone as far as Half Moon Bay,” the agent explained.
The Register reported there have been 433 illegal aliens arrested 433 migrants illegally entering the U.S. via panga boats in the San Diego Sector since November 1, 2017. Pirro explained that the illegal aliens pay the smugglers between $13,000 and $17,000 for the boat ride to the U.S. Pirro said that makes it unlikely that the passengers were connected to the migrant caravan.
At least four of the men arrested were Mexican nationals and three others were Chinese, Pirro told the newspaper. The seven migrants face federal charges for immigration violations. The two men found waiting to pick up the migrants will be charged with human smuggling.