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Federal agents detain 72 people from three panga boats, including one at Sunset Cliffs

Customs patch
(File)

Occupants of a panga boat that made it to shore at Sunset Cliffs were among a total of 72 people detained by federal agents in San Diego this week who had been on three boats headed north into the United States, Customs and Border Protection officials said.

All of the 72 people were residents of Mexico, customs officials said.

Agents with the Air and Marine Operations team saw the three boats with their lights off late April 4, the agency said in a statement. The boats happened to be traveling at the same time but were miles from one another and were not operating as a convoy, an agency representative said.

Agents stopped two of the boats at sea at about 2 a.m. The third made it to shore at Sunset Cliffs and its occupants tried to flee.

Customs officials said an agent saw a woman struggling in the water and being smashed by the boat.

The agent jumped in and pulled the woman to a rocky shore, where another agent scrambled down the rocks and helped pull her from the water. The woman was taken to a hospital.

A man who had been on the boat also was taken to a hospital, but an agency representative said it was unclear how he had been injured.

Last year, federal officials in San Diego reestablished a marine unit in an effort to stop smugglers trying to take migrants and drugs into the country by sea.

Three migrants died last year when a panga broke apart off Point Loma.

Antonio Hurtado admitted to being on drugs when he tried to smuggle 32 migrants aboard his boat, which capsized off the Cabrillo National Monument last May.


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