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Feds: Record Number Of Illegal Immigrants Target SoCal Beaches

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(credit: Getty Images)

(credit: Getty Images)

SANTA ANA (CBS) — Federal investigators are warning Southland beach-goers to watch for boats full of illegal immigrants amid what officials say is an ongoing surge in maritime smuggling.

KNX 1070’s Ron Kilgore reports immigration officials say they have intercepted a record number of attempts in the past year or so.

Some of the more recent cases in Orange County include 18 people found in a small vessel off Dana Point and a panga-style boat that washed ashore near Crystal Cove near Laguna Beach.

Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for ICE and Homeland Security in Los Angeles, said unusual boats are harder to detect until they get closer to shore.

“They all pretty much look the same,” Arnold said. “The wood boat with an outboard motor — if you see one of those in U.S. waters, especially if it’s got a lot of people on it, it’s suspect and it should be reported.”

Arnold said the problem is growing because smugglers now are having a more difficult time trying to get their contraband past land checkpoints.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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