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Federal authorities thwart smuggling efforts by sea

April 12, 2010 |  6:05 pm

Federal authorities thwarted three separate sea smuggling attempts from Friday through Sunday, arresting 21 illegal immigrants and four suspected smugglers, including a female U.S. citizen who had allegedly stashed five immigrants aboard a cabin-style vessel .

In the first incident Friday morning, federal agents arrested nine people who had apparently beached their panga boat near San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. A man suspected of being the driver for the group was also arrested, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Saturday morning, U.S. Border Patrol agents boarded a boat docking near San Diego's Mission Bay and arrested the driver, a female U.S. citizen, and five illegal immigrants from Mexico. On Sunday, agents intercepted a 24-foot Bayliner near San Diego's Ocean Beach with eight immigrants aboard. One member of the group was charged with alien smuggling.

The interdictions signal traffickers' continuing efforts to smuggle illegal immigrants into California by sea to avoid increased enforcement over land.

-- Richard Marosi in San Diego