The U.S. Border Patrol is sending more agents to the southern California coastline, now that the ocean has become preferred over land as the route of choice for smugglers of drugs and immigrants from Mexico, Reuters reported Friday.
The article explained that traditional land routes were being blocked because the Border Patrol was successfully “‘hardening the border’ — adding miles of intensified border fences, as well as cameras and sensors — as well as a big increase in patrolling.”
“The agency’s San Diego Sector, which employs some 2,600 agents to police 60 miles of land border and 114 miles of coast, has seen maritime apprehensions triple in the past five years while arrests on land have dropped to less than a sixth of 2008 levels,” the news service reported.
Border Patrol spokesman Steven Pitts told Reuters:
In the past two years, agents have apprehended some 1,300 people, seized more than 200 vessels and recovered more than 135,000 pounds (61,235 kg) of drugs along the coast between the Mexican border and Rancho Palos Verdes. In 2008, by comparison, there were 230 apprehensions, 33 vessels seized and no drugs recovered.
According to the article, Mexican smugglers are using a variety of watercraft to cross the ocean, including panga-style boats, to bring in marijuana and people.
You may recall news in early December 2012 of the death of U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, who was killed in California while attempting to investigate a suspicious Mexican panga-style boat later discovered to have a load of marijuana onboard. The Coast Guard cutter Halibut approached the suspected drug-smuggling vessel, which rammed, then drove over the cutter, causing Horne to sustain a fatal head injury.