Authorities discovered 15 undocumented immigrants hiding in the hull of a pleasure craft in Southern California’s Newport Harbor.
The migrants were detected after an Orange County Harbor Patrol deputy noticed something unusual about the boat.
“We saw the boat adrift in the channel and it was very, very low in the bow of the boat,” Deputy William Nelson said. Boarding the craft to investigate, he soon found the migrants.
“They told us they’d been on the water for two days, coming up from Ensenada and Rosarita (Mexico, both near the U.S. border),” the deputy said. “No food, very little water and they were stuffed in the front of the boat like sardines.”
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel were interviewing the immigrants on Friday at the Border Patrol Station in San Clemente.
Migrant-smugglers are adapting their strategies and have begun to use pleasure boats to transport their human cargo, ICE said.
This is the first time undocumented migrants have been found aboard a craft in the affluent enclave of Newport Beach.