The man who’s suspected to have operated a suspected human smuggling vessel that overturned off the coast of San Diego was taken into custody.
Authorities mentioned that at the least 4 individuals have died and greater than 20 had been hospitalized when the boat overturned Sunday.
“Every indication from our perspective is that this was a smuggling vessel to smuggle migrants into the United States illegally,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Supervisory Agent Jeff Stephenson mentioned throughout a information convention Sunday.
Stephenson mentioned that brokers are holding the person who’s suspected to be the smuggler behind the operation. The suspected captain’s identify was not disclosed to the media.
The captain, in line with Brandon Tucker, one other CBP official, mentioned he’s “a bit out of it, but he is speaking to agents on scene.”
“We’re assuming that it was illegal migration, but generally they are smaller, in the 20 to 30-foot range, generally about 20-plus migrants,” he mentioned. “This one was a bit larger than normal, but for overcrowding on these vessels, the unsafe conditions on these vessels, it’s the same, it’s just slightly larger.”
The accidents of the survivors vary from hypothermia to bodily accidents sustained when the boat broke aside in what was described as tough and uneven water.
“Conditions were pretty rough, five to six feet of surf, windy, cold, water is around 60 degrees, so you get hypothermia pretty quickly,” mentioned Lifeguard Lt. Rick Romero with San Diego Fire-Rescue. “The boat was on the reef, bouncing back and forth, and then just slowly disintegrated into a bunch of pieces, so there’s no boat there, it’s all debris.”
Seven individuals had been pulled from the waves, together with three who drowned, mentioned Romero. One individual was rescued from a cliff and 22 others managed to make it to shore on their very own, he mentioned.
Officials mentioned the group was overcrowded on a 40-foot cabin cruiser that’s bigger than the standard open-top picket panga-style boats typically utilized by smugglers to carry individuals illegally into the United States from Mexico.
Border Patrol on Friday mentioned regulation enforcement officers can be ramping up operations to disrupt maritime smuggling off the coast of San Diego this weekend. As hotter climate involves San Diego, there’s a misperception that it’ll make unlawful crossings safer or simpler, the company mentioned in an announcement.
The Department of Homeland Security has not responded but to a request for remark.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.