Another Delivery of Illegal Immigrants Dropped off at Ventura County Line
• ICE Sees Trend of More Sea Smuggling as Land Controls Become More Effective
BY ANNE SOBLE
Another incident of a boatload of undocumented immigrants being dropped off near the Ventura County line confirms federal concerns that Mexican smugglers are unloading their human cargo north of Malibu in order to avoid apprehension at traditional drop-off points along the coast.
Last Wednesday, 10 suspected illegal immigrants were arrested after coming ashore not far from where an empty boat was found after making what authorities believe was a similar delivery in March. The latest boat had already left the scene, most likely returning to Baja, which is believed to be the main smuggling outpost.
Spokespersons for the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency indicated that the suspects were rounded up after being dropped off near the shoreline. Two of the ten had been injured and required hospitalization.
The staple fishing craft used for smuggling usually carry upwards of twice the appropriate weights as they travel up the coast without lights. The passengers have to disembark in the rock strewn water, often without a flashlight for fear that one might attract attention.
The boats usually have already headed back before the passengers are finished wading ashore. Arrangements are often made for pickup by vehicle, but immigrants also are reported to have hitchhiked or walked to areas with public transportation before dawn.
Although ICE has issued alerts asking people to call 911 to report suspicious activity along this stretch of coastline, much of the bluffs are steeply angled and not visible to motorists on Route One.
Agency spokespersons indicate that they expect sea smuggling to increase as landside enforcement in San Diego County continues to improve. Their concern is that, in addition to the human cargo, drugs are also being transported, with some of the illegal immigrants covering part of the several-thousand-dollar cost for the trip by couriering drugs.
ICE investigators estimate that for the nearly 1000 seafaring illegal immigrants who have been apprehended along the California coast so far this year, many more thousands have successfully been dropped off.