Feds seize boat with 17 aboard in suspected human-smuggling operation

OCREGISTER — U.S. Border Patrol agents seized a fishing boat with 17 Mexican nationals aboard near Santa Catalina Island on Friday in what officials are describing as a human-smuggling operation. Around 5:30 p.m., agents with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Air and Marine observed a heavily laden, 27-foot panga – an open fishing boat with an outboard motor – about seven miles west of Catalina, the agency said in a statement. The agents noticed that the vessel had no visible hull identification number, prompting them to the contact the U.S. Coast Guard in Los Angeles for assistance.
The boat was intercepted by the Coast Guard around 6:15 p.m. Friday. Border Patrol agents arrived on an Orange County Sheriff’s Department boat and determined that the 17 people aboard the panga were Mexican nationals who were in the U.S. illegally, according to the statement. [Read More]