The U.S. Coast Guard suspended a search for migrants Sunday after eight were killed in two capsized smuggling vessels near San Diego, California.
Authorities were informed of the incident when a Spanish-speaking individual made a 911 call around midnight Sunday, Chief James Gartland, lifeguard chief for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, said at a news conference hours after the incident occurred. One of the vessels reached the shore with approximately eight individuals and a second vessel with 15 others overturned, Capt. James Spitler, sector commander for the U.S. Coast Guard in San Diego, said at the press conference. (RELATED: Hundreds Of Migrants Attempt To Storm The Southern Border)
“This is one of the worst maritime tragedies that I can think of in California, certainly here in the city of San Diego,” Gartland said, confirming that eight individuals died in the incident.
The southern California coastal region has experienced a 771% increase in human trafficking since 2017 and 23 lives lost at sea in 2021, according to Spitler.
“This is not necessarily people trying to find a better life, this is part of a transnational criminal organization effort to smuggle people into the United States,” Spitler said.
Pending further developments, at 3:30 p.m., Coast Guard Sector San Diego suspend the search for missing migrants from an overturned panga near Black’s Beach.
— USCG Southern California (@USCGSoCal) March 12, 2023
The Coast Guard also found two suspected human smuggling vessels carrying a total of 19 individuals, including a child, and traces of narcotics in recent weeks off the San Diego coast.
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