Border Patrol agents sent out a warning about a ‘dramatic increase’ in people-smuggling boats off the San Diego coast just two days before four drowned and 25 were thrust into the water when their overcrowded vessel crashed into a reef and capsized on Sunday.
The boat on Sunday had been carrying at least 29 people when it capsized not far from the shore of Point Loma, near San Diego, which is just 20 miles north of the Mexican border. Four of those on board were killed when the boat fell to pieces and others were hospitalized.
The boat’s captain is in Customs Border Patrol custody and is expected to face human smuggling charges after being interviewed. It’s unclear where the others who were on board are now or when they will be handed to CBP. It is also unclear where they came from.
On Friday, a CBP memo went out warning residents and law enforcement agencies in the area of the surge in migrants coming to the area by boat, and how dangerous it was.
It falls in line with the wider surge of migrants rushing to the US from Mexico and other southern and central American countries in response to President Joe Biden’s laxed stance on immigration. The issue has caused a crisis at the border, with more migrant men, women and children rushing to try to get in.
‘We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of maritime smuggling attempts recently. All of these illegal crossings at sea are inherently dangerous, and we have seen too many turn from risky to tragic as smugglers sacrifice the safety of those on board for the sake of profits,’ said Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke, U.S. Border Patrol said in the memo.
In 2020, 309 boats were intercepted near Point Loma in San Diego; this year, 157 have already been stopped.
Scroll down for video
Migrants are shown clambering to on the edges of an overcrowded smuggling boat that capsized off the coast of San Diego on Sunday morning just a few hundred feet from the shore
The migrants on board clung to the side of the boat as it was battered back and forth by the waves before toppling to one side. A coast guard boat scrambled to save them but four drowned
Videos show the boat being battered by the waves while some of those on board rush to the shore
The boat crashed into a reef near the shore which caused it to fall apart. Some of those on board swam to safety
The boat on Sunday had been carrying at least 29 people when it capsized not far from the shore of Point Loma, near San Diego, which is just 20 miles north of the Mexican border. Four of those on board were killed when the boat fell to pieces and others were hospitalized
The memo said there would be an increase in agents and coast guard over the weekend. It’s unclear how many were on duty on Sunday when the boat crashed.
It is also unclear if CBP knew about that specific vessel, or if they were anticipating more over the weekend because of the wider surge.
‘While the incident initially appears consistent with maritime smuggling events, U.S. Border Patrol agents have not determined citizenship, legal status in the U.S., or other identifying information at this time.
‘As we have more information about the individuals from the boat, we will be providing an update,’ a spokesman told DailyMail.com on Monday morning.
On Thursday April 29, they intercepted another boat with 21 people on board not far from where Sunday’s crash happened. They were found on a tiny panga fishing boat that had no lights.
No one died from that boat but two people smugglers on board were charged. The migrants were taken into CBP custody to be processed.
Since Biden took office, many migrants have jumped at what they consider to be a new opportunity to enter the US after years of tough immigration crackdowns during Trump’s presidency.
Many of those who were pulled from the water required CPR. At least one was hospitalized in a critical condition
A survivor from the boat is shown being taken to the hospital on Sunday. 25 survived, including the boat’s captain who is now in CBP custody
Another survivor from the crash is shown being airlifted in a crate. The coast guard said it was one of the worst tragedies they had seen in nearly 30 years
Debris is shown from the aftermath of the crash on Sunday. CBP on Monday said it was still investigating where the migrants had come from and if they should be charged
This memo went out on Friday, two days before the crash, warning of a surge in migrant boats in the exact spot of coastline
Biden has skirted around the issue, reluctantly calling it a crisis then having the White House backtrack before laying the blame for it with President Trump.
On Sunday, San Diego residents gathered on cliff edges and near the beach, watching in horror as migrants wave fell into the waves.
The original call was for a handful of people overboard but as rescuers arrived in boats and jet skis they quickly realized ‘it was going to be a bigger situation with more people,’ said San Diego Lifeguard Services Lt. Rick Romero.
‘There are people in the water, drowning, getting sucked out the rip current there,’ he said. ‘Once we arrived on scene, the boat had basically been broken apart. Conditions were pretty rough: 5 to 6 feet of surf, windy, cold.’
On Thursday April 29, agents intercepted this tiny panga fishing boat in the same patch of coast near San Diego. It had 21 people on board, all of whom are now in CBP custody, including two people smugglers
On Friday, police in Texas raided a home that was used to smuggle scores of undocumented migrants and keep them in horrible conditions while demanding ransom from relatives.
More than 90 people were found in a house in southwestern Houston that investigators suspect was part of a human smuggling operation, police said Friday.
Authorities initially served a search warrant at the house after someone called police Thursday night to report a loved one was being held there, said Assistant Police Chief Daryn Edwards.
A special-tactics team entered the house, Edwards said, and found a large, huddled group of adults — five women and the rest men. The individuals told authorities they had not eaten in a while.
‘It was a big surprise when we got in the house and saw what we saw,’ Edwards said.
This handout image released by the San Diego Fire Department via their official Twitter account (@SDFD) shows debris on the shore after a boat capsized off the coast of San Diego
Part of the wreckage of a boat that capsized can be seen washing ashore near Point Loma
Debris is littered along the shoreline off Cabrillo Monument on May 2nd in San Diego
Rescue workers use a San Diego Lifeguard cliff rescue vehicle to extricate a patient up to street level after a boat capsized off the coast
Officers asked health officials to test the captives for coronavirus infections after some complained of possible COVID-19 symptoms, including fever and loss of smell and taste sensations, Edwards said.
Anybody who tested positive would likely be quarantined, he said.
Police continued to investigate who rented the home and how the individuals ended up inside.
Relatives of the smuggling victims claim they were ordered to pay money to free their loved ones from the ‘deplorable’ conditions.
Flor Anderson, who lives close to the house in Houston, Texas, says the dilapidated property was raided on Friday after one of its occupants relatives called police to report the attempted extortion.
A massive influx of migrants, including record numbers of teenagers and children without their parents have been coming across the border.
In March, 172,331 migrants were taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The numbers are the highest recorded in 20 years.
A White House official told CNN that the number of migrant children being held in jail-like conditions by CBP dropped nearly 84 per cent in the span of a month.
San Diego Lifeguard Lt. Rick Romero (left) and Supervisory Border Patrol agent Jeff Stephenson (right) speak at a news conference held after the boat capsized just off the San Diego coast on Sunday
As of Wednesday, there were 954 children in CBP facilities, down from a peak of 5,767 on March 28.
Additionally, Biden said because the Trump administration waited so long to cooperate with the presidential transition – due to Trump contesting the election results – his transition team was unable to get information it needed from the relevant government agencies.
‘We didn’t find out they had fire a whole lot of people that they were understaffed considerably,’ Biden said.
He also said the Trump administration failed to plan for the seasonal upsurge that comes every spring.
‘They didn’t have beds that were available. They didn’t plan for the overflow,’ he said, arguing conditions for the kids, who have been put into overcrowded shelters with some sleeping on the floor, are better now.
President Biden continued to blame the Trump administration for the situation at the border; above immigrant families wait to be processed by U.S. Border Patrol agents after crossing the Rio Grande into South Texas