U.S. Border Patrol agents took 22 people into federal custody early Sept. 10 after they were spotted in an open Panga boat about three miles off the Crystal Cove shore, sources confirmed today.
U.S. Coast Guard officials first saw the boat and alerted Border Patrol and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, said Mark Endicott, a Border Patrol agent and spokesman.
At 3 a.m., agents stopped the boat and found 22 people aboard — all in the country illegally, he said. Some of the people were deported home to Mexico, he said, while others are being held as suspects and witnesses in a federal alien smuggling case, he said. Endicott said the boat was off Laguna Beach, but other law enforcement sources said specifically it was off Crystal Cove.
Further details were not immediately available.