Reporting Ron Kilgore
LONG BEACH (CBS) — An American pleasure boat skipper was in federal custody Thursday on charges of smuggling immigrants from Mexico into the U.S. illegally.
KNX 1070′s Ron Kilgore reports the captain of the boat was a 46-year-old male U.S. citizen.
Authorities boarded the vessel after it strayed into the Naval Weapons Center at Seal Beach late Wednesday, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) spokesman Michael Jimenez said.
The boat was first spotted by Weapons Center personnel before they turned it over to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, which in turn notified the CPB upon finding evidence of a human smuggling operation.
In addition to the captain, the boat was carrying 8 males and one female ranging in age from 25 to 54 — all Mexican nationals who “admitted to illegally entering the United States,” according to Jimenez.
The boat captain was arrested on suspicion of alien smuggling and the nine Mexican nationals were taken into custody for illegal entry into the U.S.
“All 10 individuals were transported to a local Border Patrol station for processing and further investigation,” said Jimenez.
Smugglers of both drugs and illegal immigrants into Southern California have made recent attempts to circumvent land border enforcement, leading to several boats — typically the smaller open-style boats known as “pangas” — washing ashore.