Tragedy struck on Saturday when two suspected smuggling boats approached a San Diego beach, and one of them capsized, leading to at least eight deaths and seven missing persons. The authorities have confirmed that the search for the missing passengers continues.
According to reports, a woman on one of the panga-style boats called 911 late Saturday to report the capsizing of the other vessel. She estimated that there were 15 people on board the overturned boat.
Upon receiving the call, the Coast Guard and San Diego Fire-Rescue teams rushed to the scene and managed to pull eight bodies from the water. However, the search for the missing passengers continues. The authorities are hopeful that they will be able to locate the missing individuals once the weather improves.
The nationalities of the passengers are not yet known, and it is unclear whether any arrests were made in connection with the incident. The use of pangas, small open boats with outboard engines commonly used in smuggling operations, is not uncommon in the area.
The incident has once again highlighted the dangers and risks associated with smuggling operations. In recent months, there has been a surge in the number of illegal crossings along the US-Mexico border. Many migrants have been turning themselves in to Border Patrol agents and being released in the United States to pursue their cases in immigration court.
Under the current pandemic rule, scheduled to end on May 11, migrants are denied the chance to seek asylum on the grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19. However, enforcement of the rule has fallen disproportionately on Mexicans, Hondurans, Guatemalans, and El Salvadorans as these have been the only nationalities that Mexico has agreed to take back. As a result, people from these four countries have been more likely to try to elude capture, knowing they are likely to be expelled under the public health rule, known as Title 42 authority. Mexico recently began taking back Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans under Title 42.
The incident has once again highlighted the need for stronger measures to combat smuggling operations and to prevent the loss of innocent lives. The authorities are expected to step up their efforts to crack down on smuggling operations and to prevent such incidents from happening in the future.