Border Patrol arrests seven people after panga beached in Encinitas

Panga boat and 13 life jackets
The Border Patrol says this panga boat was beached then abandoned at Stonesteps Beach in Encinitas on Monday, Aug. 24. Several people were seen running from the boat. In front of the boat lay 13 life jackets left behind.
(OnScene TV)

Several people jumped from the boat Monday and ran up the stairs at Stonesteps Beach in Leucadia


Border Patrol agents arrests seven people Monday, Aug. 24, after a panga raced up to an Encinitas beach then several people scrambled out and took off running, an agent said.

About 10:40 a.m., agents got a call about a small boat landing on the sand at Stonesteps Beach in the city’s Leucadia area, Agent Wendi Lee said.

Four surfers told OnScene TV that they were in the water when they saw several people in the boat duck low as the panga darted from the ocean and went up to the shore in front of a lifeguard tower. The witnesses said they watched as the crowd leapt out and ran up the steep steps that give the beach its name.

Lee said agents found and arrested seven people, and were still looking for six others. A total of 13 life jackets were found at the scene.

“Smugglers don’t care anymore,” Lee told OnScene TV. “They put migrants into these panga boats without a life vest, pangas that aren’t even capable of carrying 13, 14 individuals.

“They land wherever they want to — in this case right in front of the lifeguards.”

It’s not unusual for smugglers to bring migrants into the U.S. via the ocean on the small panga boats. Lee said that, since Oct. 1, authorities have arrested 1,119 people linked to 243 suspected maritime smuggling events in the San Diego region.

— Teri Figueroa is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune