Smuggling attempt turns deadly off La Jolla coast - The CW San Diego - News 8

Smuggling attempt turns deadly off La Jolla coast

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — Border patrol agents are still investigating Monday after a dangerous smuggling attempt off the La Jolla coast turned deadly Saturday night.

Law enforcement and rescuers searched by air and sea off the coast of La Jolla after a resident heard people yelling from the water. 

Lifeguards say they found one man clinging to a boogie board around 11:30 p.m. Saturday.  

Authorities said he was very cold and had been in the water for up to a couple of hours.   

The 32-year-old Mexican national was treated at an area hospital for hypothermia and taken into custody by border patrol. 

"We believe this is a smuggling event and all individuals had come from Mexico," said U.S. Border Patrol Agent Tekae Michael.  
Border patrol says seven people were spotted off the coast. 

Soon after, the body of a man washed ashore and a boogie board was found nearby. 

Four other people remain unaccounted for while the driver of the Panga boat returned to Mexico. 

"This is an example of transnational criminal organizations using humans and smuggling them and having complete disregard for human life," said Agent Michael. "Their worry is profit over the safety of people." 

Border patrol agents are still investigating exactly what happened, but say it's not out of the ordinary. 

"It's very common," said Agent Michael. "For San Diego sector Border Patrol, we deal a lot with maritime threats. Panga boats are common coming from the south side." 

In this case, agents believe the smugglers instructed the migrants to swim to shore - using their lives as a way to avoid capture. 

"With smuggling organizations, they know that our primary concern is for the safety of the humans being smuggled on Panga boats," Agent Michael said.

"With that known, they'll tell people to jump off the boat. Our response becomes a rescue mission and they're able to return to Mexico without being apprehended." 

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