Human Smuggling Bust Made Off Torrey Pines

Four other boats have washed ashore since Jan. 1

Authorities intercepted a boat loaded with suspected illegal immigrants overnight -- and hours later a second boat was found on Torrey Pines State Beach.

Lifeguards at Torrey Pines State Beach said the first boat was intercepted by the Coast Guard around 4:45 a.m..  A total of 23 people were aboard the vessel and were arrested. 

Ed Vodrazka, a lifeguard with California State Parks said, "We think this is another in a series of boats that have come on the beach this year that involve smuggling of humans from Mexico to California."

A second boat was discovered early Monday morning on the shore near lifeguard tower No. 4.  It was an empty 25-foot panga boat from Mexico.  Officials said they believe it was used for human smuggling and could have held nearly two-dozen passengers.  Federal investigators and Immigration and Customs Officials are investigating the find.

"They come in at random times," said Vordazka, "We have no idea when they are going to come in, so it's very difficult to apprehend the people."

This is the fourth boat that's washed ashore this year alone, according to lifeguards. 

Last Wednesday, a suspected smuggling boat washed ashore near lifeguard tower No. 7 along Torrey Pines State Beach.  According to a report, agents followed tracks from the bottom of the beach to the top of a cliff, but the trail went cold there.  Officials impounded the boat.  No arrests were made in that case.

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Conchita Ramirez, a Torrey Hills resident said, "It worries me I come here with my kids to the beach all the time, it's mind boggling I guess. I think it's a much bigger problem that just people arriving on the beach if they're coming here they have a great need and things are really hard elsewhere."

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