SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Law enforcement officers intercepted a smuggling boat full of undocumented immigrants near Santa Barbara last Thursday.
At around 10:30 a.m., Customs and Border Protection intercepted a small, open-bowed fishing vessel that came from Mexico. The U.S. Coast Guard also assisted.
The boat made landfall at a Goleta beach and was found with 15 undocumented immigrants on board.
The group of individuals on board scattered to avoid detention, CBP said.
U.S. Border Patrol agents, Homeland Security Investigations and Los Angeles Border Enforcement Security Taskforce arrived on scene and detained all 15 people after a five-hour search.
Authorities say the group included 10 adult men, one male teen and four women.
CBP says two of the men were identified to be Venezuelan and the others were identified to be Mexican. They also say that the individuals did not have any documents that allowed them to enter the U.S. legally.
Santa Barbara police assisted with the detention of the undocumented immigrants.
All 15 people were transported to the Border Patrol Station for processing.
No injuries were reported.
Illegal "panga" boats have led to major crime busts in recent months.
In March 2020, a 50-foot panga boat beached about a half mile north of Gaviota and brought in 5,300 pounds of dried marijuana and 40 gallons of marijuana crude oil.
Then in August 2020, Santa Barbara law enforcement made the biggest drug bust in the County's history by seizing 3,164 pounds of methamphetamine from a 40-foot homemade boat that originated from Mexico.
Anyone with information about illegal smuggling operations should call 562-283-7820 or dial 911.