December 30, 2010 | 1:00pm
Around 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning, a call came into the police from a woman reporting she'd seen a small fishing boat come ashore, with nearly a dozen people sitting inside. Upon striking sand, the boat emptied, with the people discarding life jackets and some clothes, then running in various directions.
She could not identify the ethnicity of the people in the boat.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials are investigating the incident to determine if, in fact, the boat served as transportation to smuggle illegal immigrants into the country.
If it is so, "No Beach Out of Reach" won't just apply to the Navy anymore.
Immigration officials received word of a second boat seen motoring near where the first boat beached. The boats were pangas, which are open-hulled fishing boats.
According to a Daily Pilot report
, an Orange County Sheriff's Harbor Patrol boat and helicopter converged on the area but did not find any of the people or the second boat.
Officials believe this incident is an indication that smugglers have identified ocean-based routes as a feasible alternative to land-based ones. This is the third such incident in Orange County reported in the past year.
According to authorities, the ocean smugglers typically target North San Diego and South Orange County for their proximity to the border, but also because of nearby access to the 5 freeway. In some incidents, cars are waiting near the drop-off points to take the immigrants away.