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Immigrant-smuggling attempt foiled near Hotel Del Coronado

March 30, 2012 | 12:48 pm

Fifteen suspected illegal immigrants were arrested near the historic Hotel Del Coronado after a maritime smuggling attempt was foiled, officials said
Fifteen suspected illegal immigrants were arrested early Friday morning near the historic Hotel Del Coronado after a maritime smuggling attempt was foiled, officials said.

The suspects stumbled ashore and were taken into custody after being chased down the beach by federal agents, police and personnel from the nearby Navy amphibious base in Coronado, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.

The suspected boat pilot was arrested after being intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard trying to escape back to Mexico, authorities said.

Smugglers use small panga boats to ferry people from launching points near Rosarito Beach and Ensenada in Baja California, officials said. In recent years there have been a surge of such smuggling incidents as traffickers try to evade beefed-up enforcement efforts on land.

Last week, authorities detained 20 suspected illegal immigrants after a boat washed ashore near El Segundo, and federal authorities say they have intercepted boats as far north as Santa Barbara County.

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-- Don Bartletti and Richard Marosi in San Diego

Photo: A U.S. Coast Guard vessel patrols off Coronado Island, where 15 suspected illegal immigrants were arrested Friday morning. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

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