The official death toll is three from Sunday's crash of a smuggling boat that capsized and broke apart off Point Loma Sunday morning.
The 40-foot vessel capsized and broke up on the rocks off Point Loma and at the foot of the Cabrillo National Monument. Officials say that in addition to the three people who died, 25 others, including one reported to be in critical condition, suffered various injuries and were taken to hospitals. He says several suffered from hypothermia, with the water cold along with heavy surf and rip currents.
A Border Patrol spokesman said the operator of the boat, the accused smuggler, is in custody. Coast Guard boats and aircraft and Customs and Border Protection air support were called in to search the area for for hours but did not find any more victims and suspended their search.
Sunday's incident comes four days since federal authorities detained 21 Mexican nationals after a panga boat was stopped off about eleven miles west of the Point Loma shoreline.
"We've seen a dramatic increase in the number of maritime smuggling attempts recently," said Aaron Heitke, Chief Patrol Agent of the Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector. "All of these illegal crossings at sea are inherently dangerous, and we have seen too many turn from risky to tragic as smugglers sacrifice the safety of those on board for the sake of profits."
So far this fiscal year, the Border Patrol has documented 157 maritime smuggling events in the San Diego area, according to CBP officials.
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(Photo reporting partner 10 News)