A maritime human smuggling run turned deadly off the coast of southern San Diego County early Monday when a boat occupied by undocumented immigrants capsized in heavy surf, killing one of them.
Federal officers staffing the Joint Harbor Operation Center in San Diego spotted the suspicious vessel headed north in rough seas in the Imperial Beach area about 2:30 a.m., seemingly beset by engine trouble, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.
As the craft was thrashed by large waves, two of the seven men aboard it jumped into the water and swam toward shore, after which the boat capsized, USBP Agent Jarrett Decker said.
Border Patrol personnel arrived in the area to find the group on the beach, two in serious medical distress, Decker said. The agents performed CPR on the pair of Mexican nationals — one 62 years old, the other 44 — prior to the arrival of paramedics, who took them to a trauma center.
The older man was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital, and the other was admitted in critical condition.
The rest of the group, ranging in age from 22 to 51, were taken into custody for being illegally present in the United States and transported to a nearby Border Patrol Station for processing. One of them, the 51-year-old operator of the boat, was arrested on suspicion of human smuggling. His name was not released.