Border Patrol
Courtesy of the CBP

U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported Thursday that air and marine operations agents intercepted three separate panga boats transporting a total of 72 Mexican nationals.

Late Tuesday night, agents detected the three pangas with their lights off carrying multiple persons. The vessels were traveling in the direction of the Maritime International Boundary Line toward the United States.

Around 2 a.m. two of the three pangas were caught at sea, while one made landfall on the rocky shoreline of Sunset Cliffs in Point Loma.

Border Patrol Agents responded to the Sunset Cliffs area where the third boat made landfall. Migrants fled from the panga and attempted to escape.

One female migrant was still in the water where she was being crushed by the panga and struggling to stay afloat against the high tides. An agent immediately entered the ocean and swam to rescue the woman.

As the agent swam to the rocky shore with the woman in tow, another agent climbed down the rocks to assist pulling the woman out of the water.

“Smugglers have no regard for the safety of their passengers,” said Brandon Tucker, director of air and marine operations. “This situation could have been fatal for all onboard.”

Paramedics arrived at the scene and transported the woman and another injured illegal migrant to a local hospital.

The remainder of the migrant group was taken into custody.