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14 suspected illegal immigrants found on boat near San Diego

November 29, 2011 | 11:40 am

U.S. authorities discovered 14 suspected illegal immigrants Tuesday morning on a small fishing boat floating off the coast of San Diego.

The boat, which appeared to be disabled, was reported to authorities by a citizen who spotted the vessel about 100 yards off shore from the Sunset Cliffs neighborhood.

Lifeguards responding to the scene at about 6:30 a.m. said they saw some of the boat's occupants jump off the craft in an attempt to reach the rocky shoreline, said Steven Pitts, a U.S. Border Patrol spokesman.

Agents gathered 11 men and three women onto the panga boat, which was towed to lifeguard headquarters at nearby Mission Beach. They are being questioned to determine who among them is the boat operator. That person could face alien-smuggling charges.

About 85 people have been arrested on smuggling boats from Mexico since Oct. 1, according to border patrol statistics.

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-- Richard Marosi in San Diego

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