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Smuggler who zipped into Imperial Beach on personal watercraft arrested in Mexico

February 14, 2011 |  7:41 pm

A Mexican smuggler zipped into U.S. waters on a personal water craft on Saturday and dropped off an illegal immigrant at Imperial Beach before speeding back to Baja California, where he was caught by Mexican police, according to U.S. border authorities.

The illegal immigrant who came ashore, a 25-year-old Mexican national, was apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol Agents who had been tracking the craft from the moment it crossed the U.S.-Mexico maritime border, according to agency officials.

Smugglers have used water craft several times in recent years and are often able to escape back to Mexico. This time, U.S. agents contacted Mexican authorities who arrested the craft's operator as he came ashore at Rosarito Beach.

San Diego County’s Imperial Beach, only two miles north of the border, is a favored drop-off point for unusual maritime smuggling attempts. Earlier this month, two Mexican immigrants got to the California beach by using dive scooters, which are self-propelled underwater devices typically used by scuba divers.

The immigrants, ages 16 and 38, were in their wetsuits, lying in the sand and attempting to hide when agents arrested them. People have also tried to enter California by swimming and using jet skis or surfboards.

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-- Richard Marosi in San Diego

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