The U.S. Border Patrol caught 20 wet and cold undocumented immigrants near a Carlsbad beach early Wednesday, shortly after the group had been dropped off by seafaring human smugglers.
Officers with the federal agency began searching around Carlsbad State Beach about 1 a.m., after a small open-hulled motorboat was spotted speeding away from shore in the area, USBP spokesman Michael Jimenez said. The agents followed muddy footprints across Carlsbad Boulevard to the east and found a group of 18 people in wet clothing and life jackets hiding in a patch of shrubbery, according to Jimenez. Two others were found a short distance away.
The federal personnel detained the group -- 16 men, three women and a boy, ages 17 to 50 -- and determined that they were all undocumented Mexican nationals, Jimenez said. No contraband was found. The migrants were transported to a Border Patrol station for processing and were expected to be deported barring the discovery of any outstanding criminal charges against them in the United States.
The skiff that had dropped them off, last seen heading south near La Jolla with two people aboard, was not captured, Jimenez said.
At least two other panga boats have washed ashore in Carlsbad in the past two years:
–City News Service contributed to this report