SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — In an effort to cut down dangerous attempts to illegally enter the U.S. by sea, law enforcement officials increased patrols off the coast of San Diego this Memorial Day weekend.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection along with other federal agencies dedicated extra resources to coastal patrols covering the land, air, and sea.
Ground units and those on boats worked in conjunction with crews in helicopters and airplanes providing aerial patrols, CBP told Border Report.
“Smugglers don’t adhere to boating safety standards. These are long and dangerous excursions, with overladen vessels traveling without navigational lights and no safety equipment,” said Brandon Tucker, deputy director of air operations for CBP’s Air & Marine Operations, San Diego Air and Marine Branch. “People need to understand that they are risking their lives in the hands of smugglers who value only the money they are paid.”
Statistics show that said smuggling via the ocean has continued to increase since 2019.
“From 2019 to 2020 we had a 92 percent increase in apprehensions,” said Border Patrol Agent Shane Crottier. “This year we are on pace to exceed those numbers; last year we had 1,273 apprehensions and so far this year we already had 1,158.”
Unfortuantely, CBP says, when there is a large increase in legitimate recreational boating traffic in Southern California, criminal organizations often try to take advantage and attempt to blend in and obscure their smuggling activities.
Crottier said another reason for the increase patrols is safety, as they try to prevent further loss of life something that happened early last month when three migrants died after they boat they were in hit some rocks and broke apart.
“We have seen some increase in deaths that have been as a result of these smuggling events,” Crottier said.
Crottier said 57 migrants were detained over the holiday weekend during three separate smuggling events.
“Fortunately, everybody was safely brought into shore,” he said.