EL SEGUNDO (CBS) — A wayward fishing boat that washed ashore in El Segundo last week had over a dozen illegal immigrants onboard with criminal records.
Federal law enforcement officials intercepted the vessel around 6:45 a.m. last Wednesday and arrested 20 passengers including four females and a juvenile.
After being detained by U.S. immigration agents, 14 of the passengers were found to have been convicted of murder, robbery, burglary, spousal abuse, animal cruelty and weapons charges, most of whom had previously been deported back to Mexico.
The detainees reportedly told law enforcement officials they had paid as much as $8,500 each to return to the U.S.
Police said the group was initially headed for Long Beach or San Diego but the weather ultimately knocked the boat off its course and ended up in El Segundo.
“Where they landed actually was advantageous for us because they landed on a beach that was next to a power plant that was fenced off, and we were able to arrive on time and capture them,” said El Segundo Police Lt. Dan Kim.
The boat captain and his assistants have been charged with conspiracy to bring illegal immigrants into the U.S., according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Over 200 “panga” boats carrying illegal immigrants have been seized between Orange County and Santa Barbara over the last year.