LAGUNA BEACH (CBSLA) — Police say as many as 12 people may have occupied a so-called “panga” boat that washed ashore Monday morning in Laguna Beach.

The boat made landfall about 7 a.m. in the Crystal Cove area, but the makeshift vessel’s passengers were already gone when authorities arrived, according to Laguna Beach police.

The landing was later reported as a “human smuggling event” by a Laguna Beach PD spokesperson, and the boat occupants were believed to have left the immediate area.

California State Park and Newport Beach police officials along with a police drone were assisting in the search.

Infrared images detected the craft with what was believed to be a dozen passengers on board.

Laguna Beach resident John Goodkind says he believes improved border security may be forcing those trying to enter the U.S. illegally to come up with new strategies.

“I never heard of this happening before,” he said. “We’re very surprised that they would migrate this far north..that’s gotta be pretty scary travel.”

“Quite an act of desperation,” said Goodkind’s wife Alison. “Scary for them, scary for us.”

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