Federal authorities intercepted a panga carrying two dozen occupants Monday morning as the small boat approached the Rancho Palos Verdes coastline.
U.S. Border Patrol agents began watching the boat carrying 19 men and six women about 5 a.m. after suspecting it was involved in a smuggling operation, said Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Authorities arrested those aboard after they landed near Abalone Cove and came ashore shortly about 8 a.m.
In addition to ICE, the U.S. Coast Guard and several state and local law enforcement agencies are assisting in the investigation.
Some passengers cried as they were photographed and interviewed by Department of Homeland Security investigators. Most were dressed casually in sweatshirts and jeans.
“The 25 individuals are being interviewed by (Homeland Security) investigators to develop further evidence related to the smuggling attempt and identify any suspects who were complicit in the scheme,” Kice said.
“Those subjects who are not held for possible criminal prosecution will be remanded to the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol to be processed and repatriated.”
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