Since late October, suspected smugglers have twice brought vessels to a city-owned dock in San Diego Bay near the U.S. Coast Guard station and were intercepted by federal officials, authorities said.
The first incident occurred on the morning of Oct. 20, when a boat pulled up to the dock near Laurel Street and North Harbor Drive in downtown San Diego, officials said.
Five people were seen walking away from the boat and getting into waiting vehicles, officials said.
Two suspected smugglers were arrested, said Border Patrol spokesman Justin Castrejon. The incident was captured on video by “a vigilant citizen” who notified authorities, Castrejon said.
The local Customs and Border Protection office posted the video on Twitter.
Last Sunday, another boat pulled up to that same dock, which is just east of the U.S. Coast Guard station near Lindbergh Field, officials said.
This time, agents were waiting for them. Agents saw 11 people disembark from the boat and try to leave. All 11 — seven men and four women — were arrested, officials said. A records check showed all were from Mexico.
One of the men was arrested on suspicion of alien smuggling charges and is being held in federal custody, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said.
The dock is owned by the city and primarily used by people operating dinghies from larger boats in the bay, according to a Border Patrol spokesman.
There have been more than 15 “maritime events” in San Diego involving smugglers crossing the U.S. border by sea since Oct. 1, with 72 people being arrested, officials say.
Kucher writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.
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