20 Detained After Human Smuggling Boat Found in El Segundo

Authorities were investigating a panga boat found washed ashore at popular surf spot

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Police questioned 15 men, four women and a juvenile who were believed to have illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexican border from Tijuana in this boat on Tuesday, March 20, 2012. NBC4's Annette Arreola interviews Lt. Raymond Garcia, the spokesman for El Segundo officers who first responded to the beach where the group was spotted.

    Police on Wednesday detained 20 Mexican nationals after the fishing boat they were in from Tijuana landed ashore in El Segundo.

    The group included 15 men, one woman and a juvenile. They tried to elude capture behind rocks after dawn on Wednesday at El Segundo Beach, police said.

    "They were all scared, hungry and wet," said Lt. Raymond Garcia, of the El Segundo Police Department. "So we gave them blankets. We fed them."

    Garcia said it appeared the group paid someone to ferry them from Mexico on Tuesday night north to Southern California shores to get around border security.

    Suspected Illegal Immigrants Towed to Shore: Raw Video

    [DGO] Suspected Illegal Immigrants Towed to Shore: Raw Video
    A panga boat filled with more than a dozen people, believed to be illegal immigrants, was towed to shore.

    "They've been at sea ever since," Garcia said.

    Immigration officials were interviewing the group and the boat's captain.

    They were expected to be deported in the next couple of days.

    "Right now we’re not at liberty to release any details," said Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    Video shot from a news helicopter showed lifeguards near the boat in one area and police in another area.

    It's one in a string of cases in recent years in which boats are being found further north along the California coast as people evade a beefed-up law enforcement presence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

    In the five coastal counties between San Diego and Santa Barbara, U.S. immigration officials recorded over 180 such cases in fiscal 2011, compared with 121 in 2010, a more than 50 percent jump, according to an analysis of data provided to NBC4 on Wednesday.

    The fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.

    In fiscal 2012, officials reported 60 cases from Oct. 1, 2011 to Feb. 22, 2012.

    One of the more recent cases involved a group of 14 people who were detained in February after getting off of a panga in Huntington Beach.

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