A U.S. Customs and Border Protection boat crew from San Diego rescued 12 men in a boat believed to be part of an attempt at human smuggling, after the vessel began taking on water near Point Loma, the agency said in a news release Monday.
Around 3:05 a.m. Monday, the Joint Harbor Operations Center notified Air and Marine Operations that San Diego lifeguards had reported a boat taking on water with 12 people aboard near the Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma.
A crew aboard a 41-foot Safeboat Coastal Interceptor vessel located the 24-foot Monterey cuddy cabin around 3:45 a.m. One man was hanging on the boat’s bow and 11 others were wearing life jackets, CBP said.
San Diego lifeguards arrived shortly after and towed the disabled boat away from the surf zone. The Air and Marine Operations crew then towed the boat to Ballast Point and secured the passengers.
Authorities determined all 12 on board to be Mexican nationals with no documentation to be in the United States, CBP said.
“Maritime smuggling is very common in our area, however, it is also very dangerous,” Director of Air and Marine Operation in San Diego Hunter Davis said in a written statement. “People should not risk their lives or their loved ones and place them in the hands of smugglers who place profit over human lives. Many times people are placed in unseaworthy vessels, on unpredictable seas with an unskilled maritime crew and without life jackets, or if in life jackets, these can be old and worn and may not keep one afloat.”
No one was injured in the incident.
Correction: An earlier version of this article gave the incorrect day for when the boat was intercepted, and for when the news was shared via press release. The story has been updated.