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Illegal immigrants apprehended at Carlsbad beach

August 21, 2009 |  4:18 pm

Twenty-three illegal immigrants were caught by U.S. Border Patrol agents on a Carlsbad beach this morning after wading ashore from a suspected smuggling boat, according to authorities.

The Mexican immigrants, five of them females, were spotted by a patrol boat about 4 a.m. off of Ponto Beach in Carlsbad. The boat got away, heading south, after dropping off the immigrants, authorities said.

Maritime smuggling incidents off the San Diego County coast have increased sharply as trafficking groups take to the high seas to avoid bolstered enforcement on land.

Authorities have apprehended 153 illegal immigrants so far in this fiscal year. Two years ago, 44 immigrants were apprehended in maritime smuggling incidents, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Richard Marosi, reporting from San Diego