Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Two arrested in suspected smuggling incident

Border Patrol arrested two illegal immigrants after discovering an overturned panga probably used to smuggle people into the U.S. early Thursday morning, authorities said.

Life jackets and gas cans were found on the beach in Emerald Bay and no passengers were visible when the Coast Guard arrived at the scene, Lt. Ana Thorsson said.

According to Laguna Beach police, lifeguards reported a couple of possible occupants from the boat walking around the rocks at Pirate Cove and north Crescent Bay Beach.

Working with Border Patrol, the Coast Guard and the Orange County Sheriff's Department, authorities made a 6-mile perimeter to search for the suspects.

The San Diego Coast Guard lent a helicopter to the search and the San Pedro unit used a 45-foot boat to search the sea.

Two individuals were detected in Whiskey Cove shortly thereafter, according to Border Patrol and police.

A 32-year-old from Mexicali and a 38-year-old from Tijuana were determined to be Mexican citizens and were arrested, said Border Patrol agent Michael Jimenez.

According to the police dispatch log, Border Patrol had said the men were part of a group of about 10 people that had paid $2,000 each for the ride. They also later informed police that one of the suspects had a criminal record that included weapons, sexual assault on a child and previous deportations.

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