At least three people were killed and 27 others injured Sunday when an overloaded boat crashed into a reef and broke apart in rough waters off Point Loma in what authorities said was a human smuggling attempt, reports the Los Angeles Times. The number of people who survived was unclear. Although fire officials said Sunday afternoon that three people died and 27 others were taken to hospitals, the Coast Guard said late Sunday that 29 people were accounted for after the boat crash — four who died and 25 who survived. The agency said one of the 25 was in critical condition in the hospital. Among the group of survivors was the suspected operator and smuggler.
The suspected smuggling attempt happened during a weekend in which the Border Patrol and partner agencies ramped up efforts to thwart maritime smuggling off the coast of San Diego. Human and drug smugglers increasingly turned to the Pacific Ocean as an alternate way to enter the United States after the Trump administration tightened border infrastructure on land in recent years. In fiscal 2020, the Border Patrol recorded 309 maritime smuggling incidents. Agents detained about 1,200 people during smuggling attempts — a 92 percent increase compared with fiscal 2019.