Crews rescue migrants from boat taking on water off California coast

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Marine Interdiction agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations patrol Miami Beach, Florida, onboard an Interceptor Class Vessel on Feb. 13, 2019. The Air and Marine Operations is a federal law enforcement organization dedicated to serving and protecting the American people through advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities. (Photo by Ozzy Trevino, U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Crews rescued a group of undocumented immigrants from a boat that was taking on water Monday off the coast of San Diego.

Lifeguards first spotted the boat about 3 a.m. near Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma, California. They contacted the Joint Harbor Operations Center, which notified U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

An Air and Marine Operations crew responded in a 41-foot Safeboat Coastal Interceptor Vessel and searched for the boat, a 24-foot Monterey cuddy cabin, according to a CBP news release. Officers found 11 Mexican men wearing life jackets on board and one man in the water who was holding onto the bow but eventually climbed back onto the boat.

Officials said the boat was too close to the high surf to be safely placed in tow, but San Diego Lifeguards responded and were able to pull it away from the surf zone. The AMO crew was then able to take the disabled vessel to Ballast Point, where it was turned over to the Coastal Border Enforcement Team.

All the men on the board were identified as Mexican nationals in the country illegally.

“Maritime smuggling is very common in our area, however, it is also very dangerous,” Hunter Davis, the Director of Air and Marine Operation in San Diego, said in a 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.”

There were no injuries reported in this incident.

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