The Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector Horse Patrol Unit. Courtesy Customs and Border Protection

The Border Patrol announced Monday it is strengthening its presence along the coastline in the San Diego sector in an effort to curb human and drug smuggling amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The agency is deploying additional patrol units, including the sector’s Horse Patrol Unit that can operate in rugged terrain that is not easily accessible via 4×4 vehicles or ATV’s.

Maritime smuggling has become commonplace along the Pacific coastline. Since Oct. 1, the Border Patrol has recorded 129 maritime smuggling incidents, which led to 485 arrests and the seizure of nearly 6,642 pounds of illegal drugs.

This compares with 194 maritime events, which led to 660 arrests and more than 19,000 pounds of seized contraband, in all of the previous fiscal year.

The agency said criminal organizations that exploit the Pacific border often use overloaded vessels that are not equipped to handle rough, ocean waters, so smuggling attempts often turn into rescue missions that require additional Border Patrol assets as well as help from local first responders.

If you have information about maritime smuggling or suspicious activity along the coast, the Border Patrol recommends immediately calling 9-1-1.