The United States Coast Guard captured 15 undocumented migrants attempting to enter the United States in Orange County on Thursday, officials said.
The USCG cutter Forrest Rednour spotted an overloaded 36-foot sportfishing boat headed north near San Clemente at around 4:30 p.m., the Coast Guard said in a news release.
After following the boat for about four hours, the Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection intercepted it off the Orange County coast.
Despite initial estimates of eight to 12 people aboard, the USCG found 15 people claiming to be Mexican nationals on the boat, the release said.
CBP took the boat’s occupants into custody and seized the vessel.
Lt. Cmdr. Keith Robinson, chief of the USCG’s Law Enforcement Division in Los Angeles, said sailing the Pacific Ocean is “inherently dangerous,” and the vessels that enter the U.S. illegally “often lack appropriate safety equipment putting all people onboard at serious risk.”
“Thanks to the exceptional professionalism and coordination of the Coast Guard Cutter Forrest Rednour and our federal law enforcement partners from CBP, 15 people, including two young children, were safely recovered from a dangerous transit in an overloaded vessel from Mexico to the United States,” he added.